Taranaki couple to play part in Obama's big day

Last updated 00:25 15/12/2008
MIKE SCOTT/Taranaki Daily News
Kathleen and Barney Coils check out some of the Disa orchids which they will be exporting to America for the inauguration of President Barack Obama next month.

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Taranaki orchid grower Kathleen Coils will be blooming proud when her product goes on display at American President Barack Obama's inauguration next month.

Mrs Coils and her husband Barney, who own and run Riverton Horticulture, just north of Urenui on State Highway 3, say the honour is a result of the hard work they have put in. "I thought, 'Oh wow, this is what we've been working towards for the past six years'," she said.

A mixture of pinks, reds and oranges will be provided for the event and will arrive at the White House within 24 hours of being cut.

Mrs Coils said if she lived in the US she would have voted for Obama.

Mr Coils said he had hoped the business would take off so he could retire from his job at Riverlands freezing works in Eltham.

"It is the step that we have been trying to find for six years," he said.

The surprise order came a year after meeting people from a US supplier, Amy's Orchids, at a conference in Thailand.

The couple were looking to increase their sales in the United States and the meeting came at the right time.

Mrs Coils said they had built up a relationship with Amy's Orchids, which has outlets in Miami, Los Angles and Virginia, over the past year which culminated in a visit to her Urenui business in November.

She was amazed to hear the plan to use her Disa orchids for the premier occasion. "It sort of gives you a real lift," she said.

Amy's Orchids supplies blooms to the top end of the US market including the White House and people in the music industry such as Snoop Dog and Beyonce.

Mrs Coils said orchids were a symbol of elegance and would suit the special occasion. The partnership with the supplier was a match made in heaven, she said. "They have got what we want and we have got what they want."

The Coils' are one of only two growers worldwide who produce the variety of orchid for supply.

Mrs Coils, who is already world famous in Taranaki for her orchids, hopes this will be the business' big break.

"I'm thinking about the exposure that we are able to get right across the United States. I'm excited at being able to pre-sell knowing that everything here has a home," Mrs Coils said, standing in her greenhouse yesterday surrounded by 15,000 stems.


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- Taranaki Daily News

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