Jim Veint. Farmer & landowner at Arcadia, Paradise New Zealand
We met Jim for the first time in 1998 when we were attracted by his property Arcadia in Paradise, New Zealand. Today, this property is home for several film crews because of its exceptional beauty. E.g.’ Lord of the rings’, ‘Hobbit’, K2, and several others. After 14 years we met Jim again, and it felt like ‘home away from home’. An inspiring person. Glad he accepted my 6vitesse-on-tour interview.
JIM, WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND?
WelI, I was born in Queenstown New Zealand in 1937. I had five younger sisters.
Compared to most people in the world, we lived in a very secure trouble free healthy environment.
I was never really hungry or scared. During the war my Mother’s brother was in the Air Force and shot down over Germany. He was eventually captured and imprisoned for three and a half years. My Dad spent time in the army, was trained as a sniper, before he was man powered to work in the scheelite (tungsten) mines near Glenorchy. My parents moved to Paradise about my 6th birthday and for 5 and a half years I lived with Dad’s parents in Queenstown for schooling and going to Paradise for the three school holidays each year. I went away to boarding school at 10 and a half years. I had to leave school earlier than I wanted to, because my parents needed me to help on the farm.
They were struggling financially, so I spent 5 years by myself helping them, without getting paid and only occasionally meeting friends or playing sports. We didn’t have a car in those early years and would go to Glenorchy on the tractor.
When I was married in 1960, 5 years wages were credited to me and I purchased a share in Arcadia. Barbara and I have 4 boys and a girl, 8 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
I was divorced in 1992 and have lived with Ros ever since.
Although I have good assets, I have never had much money. Firstly paying off my parents for the farm, and then paying a half share to Barbara in 1992.
WHAT DOES FREEDOM MEAN TO YOU
To me, freedom means doing what I want to, providing that it doesn’t upset other people. There is sometimes a balance. We do have laws and regulations that I don’t always agree with, and these sometimes can be a restriction. New Zealand I think, has more freedom and less bribery and corruption than anywhere. However when I was younger and Paradise was more remote we more or less did anything we wanted to.
WHAT DOES FRIENDSHIP MEAN TO YOU
Friendship means to have people you can rely on, enjoy their company and share time and things with.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU
Succes doesn’t mean you have to have the biggest or best. It means to be content, happy, healthy and being able to help friends and family if they need it. Being financially secure helps, and having a property like Arcadia.
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE MOST IN THE WORLD
Probably Nelson Mandela. His ability to put the past behind, look at the big picture, and make a difference. Revenge usually results in everyone losing. But I am not sure if I could forgive someone who harmed or raped someone close to me.
WHAT GIVES YOU ENERGY
Believing in something and trying to make a difference. As a farmer there are often challenges with animals, and other things which require a lot of effort. For about two years I was the most successful cattle breeder in N.Z. and achieved more than could be expected. I then opted out, the challenge was gone.
DO YOU HAVE A DREAM THAT YOU HOPE ONE DAY WILL BE FULFILLED
Things at the moment are good for me, but I will always have ideas, and things I want to do. However I am aware that the years are ticking by.
IN WHAT ARE YOU A TALENT BY NATURE
I guess you are asking what abilities I have inherited. Mum’s father was a very good athlete and sportsman, and I have inherited this. Also she and her mother could be very determined when necessary, and I seem to be able to draw on extra strength when things get tough. My Dad’s mother was very intelligent and such a good person, that I hope I have inherited some of that. I always seem to be able to remain calm when under pressure or things go wrong.
WHO DO YOU RESPECT MOST IN THE WORLD
Probably my Dad’s mother. As said she was very intelligent, had great values, was generous and helped so many people. Nobody in Queenstown had much money in those days and she gave poorer families milk, eggs, meat fruit and vegetables. It was a great environment to grow up in. Everyone seemed so friendly and helpful. From turning 6 until 10 and a half years old I lived with my grandparents and I think most of my values were learnt from her. She always let me go out to see films, which were held three evenings a week. Almost always I was the only child in the theatre. She knew I didn’t need much sleep and was sensible. Also I respected the Rector at my boarding school. He had great values and amongst other things, never allowed any bullying at his school.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GROW AS A PERSON
Firstly it helps to have good role models to copy from, and not have things too easy. One of my biggest thrills was when I was 8 or 9 and my mother told me she was going to buy me football boots.
For the six weeks of the summer school holidays when I was ten, I milked 6 cows by hand night and morning. My parents had the Paradise Guest House, and were very busy. I also had to find the cows each time. They could be more than a kilometer away in any direction. I then had to carry buckets of milk, separate the cream needed and help Mum and Dad with other jobs. I would never have asked my children to do as much, but in fact it did me a lot of good. I had to think for myself and get the job done. This helped me to be confident in any new thing I tried, and know somehow or other I could do it. Like farming now, it was both physical and mental.
To grow as a person you need dreams, ambition and the ability to do the hard yards when needed. Also to respect and care for other people.
WHAT DOESN”T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER, DID YOU EXPERIENCE THIS?
Although I haven’t nearly been killed, I know how some people and myself can be more thoughtful, appreciative and have much better insight after surviving something adverse. A better appreciation of time and how to make more of every day. Also what is important in life, like family and friends. However for some people, permanent damage can be done if they have been raped or abused.
DID YOU ONCE TAKE A LEAP BY TAKING A SMALL STEP BACKWARDS ?
I don’t think I have ever taken a step backwards, but as a farmer, some years I would develop and some years I would consolidate. In recent years I have reduced stock numbers to make things easier for myself as I get older.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO CHANGE IN THE WORLD
I’d like to eliminate power hungry dictators, who use fear or religious extremism to exploit people.
If I could I would eliminate hunger and Aids. I find it hard to believe how civilized people can revert to to such barbaric behaviour. I think of the friendly atmosphere at the Winter Olympic Games in Sarejevo, then the blood bath that followed not many years later.
WHAT IS MOST PRECIOUS TO YOU?
Obviously family and friends are precious and I do love New Zealand and this place called Paradise. Personally, I guess self-respect. I don’t let myself care too much what other people think of me. It is more important that I like myself. I know you can’t please everyone and even if you were perfect, someone would dislike for that. I was a good rugby player and know the thrill of having crowds cheering for you, or the buzz a good write up gives. (A slight contradiction to not caring what people think.)
IS THERE SOMETHING THAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO BUT NEVER DARED TO
No, But when I was younger there were a few girls I would like to have dated, but never did.
WHAT DRIVES YOU, WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK
I’m usually fairly relaxed and not very good at training or running round in circles. Maybe a bit lazy. However, when playing sport, or having to get things done, I am able to put in a big effort and seem to have more stamina than others. Because I don’t need much sleep, I have a lot of time at night to think. I don’t let negative thoughts linger. There are three things I don’t think about, because I know I will never get an answer. The infinity of space, time, and the billion to one chance that I am alive at this moment in time. Astrologists tell us they have detected light from an immense sun that is more than 10 billion light years away. Our sun is only 8 light minutes away , and we are told our earth is less than 5 billion years old. Also how infinitely small can things get. Infinity of time and what happens before time, or when it finishes. I understand genetics and evolution.
I value honesty and my own self-respect. Also hope that I can admire, feel, and taste the good things in life. I try to not let small things upset me, and feel I should accept failure, providing I have done my best. I’m not sure what makes me tick. I’m my own person with my own views and within reason, can usually do what I want to. I have been reasonably happy wherever I was. My young years in Queenstown school, boarding school, military camp, working on the farm or holidaying overseas..
I also see in many cases, how important the power of love is. Knowing you are loved can give immense strength to people having a hard time. I also recognize, that there is no one who can’t teach me something.