Kelly and Steve Taylor are the duo behind ROAR Coffee Roasters and Temple Tattoo. They’re committed Southlanders now, but how on earth did a couple from Matakana find their “forever home” in Lumsden?
Imagine the conversation:
“Happy 30th birthday, darling. I’ve got such a surprise for you.”
Such a surprise! What possibilities spring to mind?
Holiday in Hawaii? A Spa retreat? Sparkling diamonds? Or maybe a cosy meal in your favourite restaurant.
Steve Taylor’s idea of a birthday surprise turned out to be a huge empty Masonic Lodge building in the small, Northern Southland town of Lumsden.
At that point, she never dreamed that one day she would actually end up living in that big old beautiful building and loving every moment of life in Lumsden.
Steve Taylor loves rivers, mountains, old things and art. Not necessarily in that order.
So for him, it was a bit of a no-brainer to buy a big old building in Southland, even if he did hail from warmer climes.
He grew up a surfie in Point Wells and Matakana, right by the beach. In those far-off days, it was a small seaside area a long way from Auckland’s city bustle.
Steve first trained as a printing apprentice. He spent years in the printing industry and ended up managing 300 staff. After time overseas he found that his hometown area was rapidly expanding and opened a signwriting business in the Main Street of Matakana. Surfing … signwriting… life was good.
After a while, a mate from Auckland opened a tattoo shop right next door. “This’ll be great,” thought Steve, and it was. He began hanging out there after work and soon learned to love this fascinating art.
After a while, he ditched signwriting completely and went all out in the tattoo world.
Around 2007, Steve happened to be in Arrowtown and spotted an ad in the Property Press.
A hundred-year-old hall, masquerading as an antique shop, isn’t every Kiwi’s cup of tea. But Steve’s not your average home buyer and he loved the idea. So he drove down to Lumsden and there it was. Rundown, sure, but the bones of the place were sound.
He returned to the North Island lighter in pocket and the proud new owner of the Lumsden Masonic Lodge building.
Meanwhile, Kelly was having adventures of her own.
Halfway through a zoology degree at Auckland Uni, she spotted an unmissable opportunity. The Meerkat Project – yes the same Meerkat Manor one you’ve watched on TV – was seeking volunteers.
“I applied but I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Kelly says.
Now, the project is in South Africa and is run by Cambridge and Pretoria Universities. But the manager was from New Zealand. She couldn’t wait to get another Kiwi among all her English students, so Kelly got the nod.
“All of a sudden it was two weeks and I was there. Even in 2001, that study was already 11 years old. I was so lucky to be accepted.”
At the Meerkat Project Kelly found she loved cooking almost as much as she loved meerkats. The others were delighted to let her cook any time she wanted. So as well as researching, Kelly found herself cooking for 14 people each night. She thought it was great fun.
You can probably tell that Kelly’s not one to let the grass grow under her feet. After her meerkat adventure she:
- Moved back to Dunedin to finish studying
- Completed her BSc
- Managed a fruit orchard in West Auckland
- Worked as a PA in England
- Managed a bakery back in New Zealand
- Met Steve
- Moved to Matakana
- Worked in Real Estate
- Married Steve
- Owned, managed and eventually sold a Diner with her Dad
- And finally shifted south to help turn an old, rundown lodge into an exquisite home.
… And Their Lovely, Old Temple.
Steve and Kelly’s lovingly restored hall was built in two parts.
In 1907 the original building was home to a large and thriving group of Freemasons.
“People used to travel two-and-a-half days to get to a meeting,” says Kelly. “Others would travel up on the train from Invercargill. They’d bring their work clothes, stay the night after the meeting and travel back the next day.”
It was so popular that after a few years they added a banquet hall, kitchen and toilets onto the back of their hall. Now the building was double its original size.
It’s taken years of work but now Steve and Kelly have transformed the old place.
They spent their first winter without insulation. One was enough. “We got the insulation after the ChCh earthquake when they were doing big auctions on Trade Me. The highest bidder got the insulation and the money went straight to the Red Cross,” says Kelly.
Kelly and Steve run their businesses literally on the side. ROAR’s roastery is on one side of the building and Temple Tattoo’s studio is in front. But it’s the original banquet hall which has become their home.
The Taylors have transformed this old lodge into a quirky home.
“We’ve got a bath in the lounge — as you do!
I said to Steve, if we ever build a new house are we going to put a bath in the lounge? And he said ‘too right.’”
Before Steve came along I’m not sure anyone would have thought of tattooing in Lumsden. But it turns out that this old building is the perfect place for Steve’s art to flourish
In freemasonry terms, the Lodge is actually the particular group of masons. The Temple is the building where they meet. And when you enter Temple Tattoo you know you’re meeting an artist.
Immediately you get the sense that you can trust Steve to create a lasting artwork on your skin.
That’s not just my opinion. Temple Tattoo is only open by appointment and people book months in advance. They come from all over Southland and further afield to get a tattoo from Steve.
ROAR Coffee Roasters
Five years after Steve set up Temple Tattoos, Kelly embarked on her coffee dream. No-one ever imagined we’d have a coffee roastery in Lumsden but now that it’s here we love it.
ROAR has its own story on the blog.