Our People

Crafting our wines is very much a partnership

Meet the team that share the same connection and love affair with growing and making distinctive wines from our region.

Kirsten Searle - Owner

Kirsten Searle


Kirsten’s background has given her a solid foundation to be at the helm at Matawhero. Her previous life was at Villa Maria Estate, where her passion for wines was ignited. Upon moving to Gisborne in 2002 to marry Richard (and mid-way through starting their family) her winery roots were re-activated when Matawhero became available for sale. Kirsten and Richard’s “dependents” suddenly became three children under four, a dog, a cat, a vineyard and an old winery. As with managing a family, considerable time, focus and patience is required to reintroduce a dormant, yet legendary, wine label back to the market.

Richard Searle


Richard always knew he wanted to move back to his birthplace Gisborne for family, lifestyle and his passion for the surf. He managed his family vineyard after returning from London as part of a long OE where his accounting background was put to use.

Richard Searle
Kim Crawford - Winemarker

Kim Crawford


Our relationship with Kim all started with growing fruit for him in the late 1990s under the KC brand. Many years later, casually, over a glass of wine (as many good business relationships are formed), he offered to come and lend a hand with crafting our Matawhero wines.

Kim has always had a soft spot for Gisborne, and after working with fruit from our region for over 30 years, we think he is pretty well placed to guide us through making the best wine we can.  Kim comments, “whilst Gisborne can be a difficult region from both a viticulture and winemaking perspective, when you get it right the flavours and fruit weight are unmatched”.

Melissa Muggeridge


Melissa has spent the past 4 years working in different areas of the wine industry after completing her winemaking and viticultural course at EIT here in Tairawhiti. Melissa has tried it all from tending to the vines to making wines but admits she feels the most at home in the cellar door educating people about the world of wine. Her favourite wines are Rosé, bubbles and of course Chardonnay!

Staff member profile photo
Staff member profile photo

Lauren McInteer


Our organised office queen, Lauren spent her former life working in the Cayman Islands. Moving back to her home town to raise her family, she ensures that the Matawhero “back-end” runs smoothly (if only it was as easy as turning beautiful grapes into wine and that was it!). In her spare time she loves gardening and our beautiful Gisborne Tairawhiti beaches.

Caitlin England


Caitlin is a new resident to Tairawhiti Gisborne having just moved from Queenstown after completing her Adventure Tourism Management degree. She loves the laid back beach lifestyle that our region offers and will happily sit and admire the view with a glass of wine in hand. Being a passionate foodie, she not only enjoys eating delicious food but making sure that the perfect wine is being served right alongside it.

Staff photo

Paul Tietjen


PT as he is affectionately known to all around the Gisborne district, planted his first grapes in 1983 and it was Chardonnay! The famous Tietjen vineyard has grown many Gold medal Chardonnays over these years and most of our Chardonnay fruit at Matawhero is harvested from this block on the Golden Slopes sub region of Gisborne.

The Briant family


Pete, Fraser and Blake Briant have been farming in the Gisborne region for three generations. During this time they have been involved in not just grape growing but dairy, citrus, mixed cropping of maize, sweetcorn and tomatoes to name a few, apples, kiwifruit and sheep and beef – a testament to Gisborne’s fertile soils and the ability to grow an abundance of produce.

Pete planted his first vineyard in 1996, and was one of Kim’s original growers from Gisborne. 20 years on, it is lovely to see this relationship continue into Matawhero.

Briant Family Of Grape Growers