From zoology to herbalism, with nine kids in between

Lower Hutt herbalist Maree Murphy has turned a longtime gardening passion into a herbalist career.
PHOTO: ELEANOR WENMAN/FAIRFAX NZ

Lower Hutt herbalist Maree Murphy has turned a longtime gardening passion into a herbalist career.

She started off studying zoology but four decades down the track, a lifetime love of gardening has turned into a job for herbalist Maree Murphy.

Murphy has spent her last seven years creating teas, creams and tinctures from herbs she grows in her own back garden.

She sees a lot of people come through her doors at Heavenly Herbs, looking to solve a whole host of complaints from stress to infertility.

Her background in science has stood her well.

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"I'm interested in what works, not the maybe's'."

She originally studied zoology at the University of Otago, where she met her husband Gary and came top of her class in 1970. Before that, she showed a flair for table tennis and was the under 18 New Zealand girls champion in 1967.

Since then she's spent time teaching science in schools and working in laboratories for the likes of sausage manufacturer Hutton, where she was laboratory manager.

Amongst all that, she's also raised nine children - six boys and three girls. Her eldest, Donna, is now 42 and her youngest, Caleb is 21.

"They really are a blessing."

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It was one of her children who helped set her on her herbalism path. Several years ago, her son David challenged her, asking her if there was anything she would have changed in her life.

""I wouldn't have been a science teacher, that's for sure!"

With encouragement from her husband, she enrolled in a herbalism course and came out three years later as a registered herbalist through the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists.

She'd found her "niche". She'd always been passionate about gardening and had learned the tricks of the trade from her dad.

Her personal favourite concoction is a tea made from freshly-picked lemon balm and peppermint from her garden.

Raising her kids, she helped them develop an interest in gardening as well, portioning out little sections at their old house in Woodvale Gr, Fairfield for each of them to look after.

They've spread all over the world now, with one in Spain and another in the UK but when they do manage to pull off a family reunion, it's full of love and noise.

 - Stuff

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