At 20 years old, Mere Vaka has her sights set on a long and successful career as a beekeeper. "I think it’s an exciting job. It’s a bit of a challenge because there aren’t a lot of female beekeepers but I really enjoy it."
Originally from Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, Mere called her grandfather, Eddie Matchitt, in 2013 to ask if she could move back to the East Cape and live with the family there. She wanted to return to the land and lifestyle of the East Cape, and she saw beekeeping as an opportunity to earn a living as well.
After two years as an apprentice, Mere is very happy with the decision she made. "It’s more than just a job, it’s also the responsibility of caring for the bees. I really wanted to do something that I was passionate about."
Mere clearly has a passion for beekeeping, "Spring is my favourite part of the whole year. During the winter the bees look weak, a little bit hungry and the colony sizes are quite small. Then spring hits, and you go from a colony of 3-4 frames to a full box in a matter of weeks. That’s a drastic change."
"Another fun part is harvesting," says Mere. "We do all this stuff during the rest of the year, and we finally get to harvest the honey and we get lots of extra people in to help us out."
Mere told us she would like to eventually have her own hives, and run her own beekeeping business.