“The best childhood ever,” is how Merle Foster describes growing up on her parent’s dairy farm in Oruaiti Valley south of Mangonui in Northland.
“Among my earliest memories is waking up in the cowshed and hearing the clicking sound of the pulsators and the cows chewing their cud,” says Merle, who is the new Editor of Coast & Country News.
Merle takes over the role in March, replacing Elaine Fisher who has stepped down after six years with the publication.
“I’m delighted Merle has accepted the editor’s role as she is a talented journalist who knows the rural sector well. I know she will do an excellent job and will bring a fresh new perspective to what is a very well read and popular publication,” says Elaine.
Merle’s parents Colin and Agnes Foster still live on their 110-hectare farm where they milked 120 cows and involved their daughter in every aspect of farm management and life.
Merle attended Mangonui Primary School and later Taipa Area School before finishing her secondary education at Kerikeri High School. She then embarked on a four-year Bachelor of Communications degree at AucklandUniversity of Technology, majoring in journalism.
“I was open-minded as to what career I would pursue when I went to AUT but enjoyed the journalism major so much I decided that was what I wanted to do,” says Merle, who worked for the weekly paper the Whangarei Report for two years after graduating.
“I have a strong interest in news and politics and found I really enjoyed writing, and particularly helping people tell their stories.”
When Merle was offered the chance to be chief reporter at the weekly newspaper the Katikati Advertiser, near Tauranga, she jumped at the opportunity. It was while working in the town that Merle met her partner Stephen Cave and later the couple spent two years living and working in Australia before returning to New Zealand six years ago.
While in Australia Merle had a number of jobs, including working for the Queensland Times and helping carry out research for a health sciences book at the University of Southern Queensland.
Not long after returning home, Merle joined the team of reporters working on Tauranga’s community newspaper The Weekend Sun, owned by SunMedia, where she eventually became its assistant editor.
New Farm Dairies
As well as writing and subediting the newspaper, Merle also worked on the SunLive website and travelled to Canterbury, throughout the Waikato and Northland, carrying out interviews and taking photographs for articles in the annual publication New Farm Dairies.
She and Stephen have two daughters, Isla aged two-and-a-half and Eden, seven months. Merle is looking forward to her new role with Coast & Country News, supported by a team of journalists from throughout the regions.
“Coast & Country News is a high-quality, grassroots publication and editing it will enable me to keep in touch with the side of my childhood which I loved so much.
“The regions the paper covers, the wider Bay of Plenty to Gisborne, Coromandel and Waikato are home to unique, innovative and diverse primary industries and I’m looking forward to finding out about what people are doing on the land and telling their stories.”