For most of us Rarotonga is a relaxing holiday, but for Kristine Barraud and her husband Greg Stanaway, it’s home. They invite us into their tropical paradise.
Kristine (aka Krick) and Greg have been based on the island for 14 years. Greg is the CEO of the Pacific Resort Hotel Group and Krick initially commuted for eight years after completing a BA in spatial design and working in costume and design in the film industry in Auckland. She then returned to the island full-time to complete her masters degree in art and design through a distance learning programme from AUT in Auckland.
“We love it here, it’s warm in winter, very peaceful, and we’re surrounded by beautiful people, culture and nature. It takes just 40 minutes to drive around the entire island,” says Krick. “In the old days visitors used to bring chilly bins of food, but that’s not necessary now as you can get everything here. There are a lot of local vegetables and fresh fish every day. On a good day a loin of yellow fin tuna for fresh sashimi will cost $10-20. Chilli bushes, limes and avocados grow everywhere, and fresh gardenias and hibiscus abound.”
Four years ago Krick and Greg built a home on the east coast of the island, which is also known as the wild coast with the seasonal trade winds. As the reef is close they added a 15-metre lap pool by the sheltered back wall of the house. The engineering was completed in New Zealand and the pair used local materials and builders to construct a solid house to withstand the coastal environment.
All of the land in Rarotonga is leasehold, and as Greg and Krick’s home sits right above the Pacific Ocean it was mandatory to get an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) on the build. As a result they needed to excavate a 60-metre trench in the front to create a berm. This was then lined with a geotech cloth and filled with a mix of coral and sand which was being dredged from the Avatiu harbour at the time. The cloth was then folded and stitched to create a huge sock and buried to ensure the stability of the land.
Six or seven months later the three-bedroom, three-bathroom home was complete. One of the bedrooms and bathroom was once Krick’s studio but is now a guest room. It’s available through Airbnb and welcomes guests or their three ex-pat children if time and distance permit. “Our oldest son Toby lives in New York with his wife and two children, our daughter Jordan lives in Melbourne with her husband and two children and our youngest, Tex, ‘lives in the world on super yachts’,” smiles Krick.
Krick used her artistic skills and eclectic style to embellish the interiors with collections of Constance Spry vases inherited from her mother, Temuka pots and Crown Lynn vases and hanging alongside her own work are local, Pacific Island and New Zealand artists’ prints, lithographs and paintings. The result is a beautiful, restful sanctuary.
This much-admired print was a gift from fashion designer Adrian Hailwood. “I used to flat with him when I came back to Auckland and fell in love with it,” says Krick. One of their two dogs Betty takes centre stage. “The story goes that in the late ‘60s an imported dachshund and basset hound came to the island and the mixes of the two with the local dogs are very common. They are like big dogs with a lovely gentle nature and very short Queen Anne cabriolet legs, comical but very lovable.”
The gardens and landscape are a work in progress. The iron wood box hedges, which now define the boundaries started out from saplings found growing in the sand during the cyclone season. Their strong root system and ability to thrive in the environment make them ideal for this coastal property with their strong straight lines assimilating the solid lines of the house.
Rarotonga is a sophisticated South Pacific destination, where its people and tourism industry live and breathe warmth and authentic hospitality based on the spirit of its universal greeting ‘kia orana’ .
Rarotonga quick facts
Population: Approximately 13,000
Flight: 3h 55m AKL – RAR, Air New Zealand, Virgin, JetStar
Size: Circumference 32 Kilometres
Words: Jenna Moore