Music, markets and baking biscuits

ON SONG: June Burney recording her song Like the Phoenix from the Ashes, in 2011.

Lincoln resident June Burney is heavily involved in the community through music and the local farmers and craft market, of which she is a committee member. She spoke to Tom Doudney about her cookie business, the song she wrote after the February 2011 earthquake and the loss of community spirit which led to her move from England

When did you start your business, June B Cookies?

Probably about four years ago. It really started because in the early stages after I came to New Zealand I was really ill and developed a lot of food intolerances, so as a result I had to cook everything from scratch and this is a recipe I developed as a treat for myself. My husband, Ian, used to eat my cookies so I thought ‘why not make it available to other people who have similar intolerances to myself?’

What do you think led you to develop those intolerances in New Zealand?

I think I had always had them to a limited extent but when I was really ill with endometriosis and lost heaps of weight the intolerances blew out of all proportion really. Before I left England I had an operation to remove an ovary and according to the consultant I saw when I came to New Zealand, he said that possibly exacerbated the situation. Environmental factors can aggravate it so we try and be as healthy as possible now.

What led you to move from England?

We were just looking for a new life and to bring up our daughter, Amy, somewhere that we could really enjoy ourselves. We felt that in England it was becoming very commercialised and community spirit was declining and everybody was so busy and we wanted a bit more of a relaxed way of life.

If you’re looking for a place with community spirit, Lincoln is a good place to be I guess.

Yes, most definitely this is home now. We just became citizens a few months ago.

Must be nice knowing Immigration can’t suddenly boot you out now or something.

Yes.

How long have you been in New Zealand?

Just approaching 10 years now.

You’re a musician too, how long have you played music?

I have always played music. I played the keyboard and was in swing bands in my teen years and in my 20s I sang a little bit and played keyboard with my father as a duo and then rekindled it (music) since I have come to New Zealand.

You put out an album a few years ago, didn’t you?

I did one CD as well as playing at private functions and lots of community events that I’ve been involved in and I’ve run a couple of community projects. I did a project called Sing Your Heart Out Christchurch just after the earthquakes to bring people together and uplift them through music and I did one to commemorate the anniversary of the start of World War 1. Now I’m working on a community project in Selwyn in July where I am pulling together quite a few Selwyn community groups involved in music to do this concert.

Tell me more about that.

It’s going to be held at Lincoln High School on July 22 and it’s going to be called A Celebration of Screen and Stage. There are groups such as the Kirwee Players, the Ellesmere Pipe Band, the Selwyn Community Choir and quite a few of the duos and solo artists from Selwyn are going to work with me on this project. I just thought it would be a great idea to bring together people from different musical styles in one concert from the community of Selwyn.

How will it celebrate screen and stage?

The type of songs that are going to be performed are the likes of music themes from James Bond and numbers from Hairspray and The Full Monty, so movie themes, TV themes and songs from musicals essentially.

Tell me about the CD you put out.

That was probably in about 2011 and it was called Love and Inspiration. The reason I did the CD really was prompted by the fact I wrote a song about people coming together after the earthquake. On that song in the recording studio there were quite a few local children from Lincoln and two other people I knew from Selwyn who came and sang on that.

What was that song called?

Like the Phoenix from the Ashes.

Do you play music at the Lincoln Farmers and Craft Market?

Occasionally.

You’re a committee member of the market too, when did you first get involved with it?

Probably about eight years ago. We became involved because my husband and I like to be creative and we do photography and produced a range of photographic cards of local scenery in New Zealand, so we joined the market. As I’ve said we have this passion for community spirit and we think it’s an important thing to maintain in any community, so along with the other committee members we try to keep that going by organising special community events as well as the standard market days. We want people to see the market as a place where they can socialise and meet and have fun as well as buy local produce and crafts.

Why do you think England has been losing that community spirit?

I just think people are too busy working really and I think the focus is a lot more on money and paying your mortgage and obviously everybody has to do that but I don’t think you should lose sight of why you are making the money – so you can have a good life.

How old is your daughter?

She is 17, in her last year at Lincoln High School.

Does she like it here or does she miss England?

She is definitely an adopted Kiwi, she very much likes living in New Zealand. She likes the outdoor life and she is also very involved in the community too. She helps out at the market and is involved in the Lincoln Envirotown.

WHAT’S COOKING: June Burney started making cookies when she moved to New Zealand and now sells them at the Lincoln Farmers and Craft Market.

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