Brewing up independence

Brewing up independence

Cameron Stitchbury (left), Neville Pugh and Janie Martin (right) from the Independence Collective have have created a beer label in partnership with Duncan's Brewery. Photo: Robert Kitchin/Stuff.

The Kapiti-based Independence Collective’s beer ‘Neville’ is now stocked in 14 local establishments

The collective is a group of people with intellectual disabilities on the Kapiti Coast, who after struggling to find work came together to create a beer label in partnership with Duncan’s Brewery.

The team of Neville Pugh, Janie Martin, Cameron Stichbury and Nathan Martin is on its second batch of Neville Pale Ale.

They bottle, box, distribute the beer and make all business decisions themselves.

Nathan Martin of the Independence Collective bottles the beer himself. The team also box and distribute the beer, as well as making all business decisions themselves. Photo: Gordon Cumming.

Neville Pugh said, “It’s been really, really amazing to work together as a collective and as a team.”

Creative advisor Gordon Cumming said they all had complementary roles and things they’re good at. Neville did promotions, Cameron bottled the beer, Janie worked in sales and Nathan did sales and bottling.

He said they were selling financial independence. “The idea is that as a collective, they collectively own the business.

“That takes them from, instead of what you would normally term as lower skilled jobs, to actually owning their own enterprise and being in control of their own future.”

They started with a PledgeMe campaign for the first brew of beer. The second was fully funded with the money earned in sales.

 “Our initial batch was around 170 cases and the one we just brewed is 176. From there, if it gets picked up nationally, we go from 1000 bottles of beer to 1000 cases of beer,” said Cumming.

The initial batch of the Independence Collective’s ‘Neville’ was 170 cases and the second, just brewed, is 176 cases. Photo: Gordon Cumming.

“Behind the scenes at the moment, we’re currently working with some individuals around it being stocked nationwide in supermarkets and liquor outlets.”

He said this was only the beginning, with the final goal of a brand that sold many things like clothing, chocolate and coffee as well as beer.

Janie Martin said, “We want to show other people with disabilities that might be feeling like they can’t do anything that they have a purpose. “

She said finding something they loved had affected them all positively. “Cameron for example, I’ve known him since 2010 and he was shy, quiet and now he’s come out of his shell and is a whole lot more confident.”

Cameron Stichbury of the Independence Collective has become a lot more confident since finding something he loves. He bottles the beer. Photo: Gordon Cumming.

 Barney Shiels-Reddin, owner of Reddins, a bar and restaurant in Raumati Village said it was “really, really popular.” He had had 100% positive feedback. “I would be quite happy to put it on tap.”

He said he had been nagging his friends in Wellington, that own establishments, to get involved. If it stayed in the public’s consciousness it could really catch on and do well.

Kapiti Tenpin centre manager Doreen Aldrich said, “They are marvellous. We support them 110%.”

She said it took the beer a while to catch on, as it has not been out for long and people didn’t realise the centre sold it. “It’s had all good, positive feedback.”

She said they had regulars come in every week to buy Neville. Some of her customers have even converted from loyal Heineken drinkers, to loyal Neville drinkers.

The team is working on some new products including a print of t-shirts and eventually a new beer, a pilsner called Jolene.

It will also have an exhibitor stand and are speaking at the New Zealand Disability Support Network conference.

 You can buy the Independence Collective’s Neville at Finns Paekakariki, Café 6, Waterfront Bar, Reddin’s, The Boundary Blue Train, Breakers Kapiti, Pram Beach/Umu, Kapiti Tenpin, The Front Room Eatery, Waimea Restaurant, The Winemakers Daughter, Reds Café, and Quarter Acre café.

You can also order nationwide directly from their Facebook page at

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Article by Rachel Moore

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Article by Rachel Moore

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