Rata Lovell-Smith

Rata Lovell-Smith knows that a life rich in soul is more important than how much money you have in the bank. Wild places and chasing adventures, taking something that feels impossible and scary and making it possible, this is how Rata keeps herself grounded and thriving.

At 17 years old Rata arrived on NZ’s West Coast to study outdoor education at Tai Poutini Polytechnic. In the first week of the course Rata met Phil. Convincing him she could kayak and heading off for some Murchison treats, thus begun many outrageous river missions together. Around the same time, Rata and Phil along with their good friend Greg, launched Two Dash Productions. The story goes that in their somewhat looser youth there was at times some roof climbing and occasional wall spraying. One night, Phil disappeared. When he was found, it was discovered that he had tried to write “Life is too short to kiss slowly” on a wall but ran out of space. Instead, it became “Too —. Rata kept making fun of him for it, and that’s where the name comes from. They keep it lighthearted.

Fast forward, Rata and her husband Phil have graduated as West Coast kayaking legends, known for their rope wizardry, technical and safety skills . Both tutor on the same course at Tai Poutini that launched them into the kayaking world. A “pretty outrageous job” according to Rata, “ There’s so much more to the sport than how well you paddle a rapid—so much else that’s important. Do you buy beers at the take- out? Would you drive across the country for a mate? Would you walk a rapid just to set safety so your mates can run it? That’s a good kayaker and more, that’s a good teammate.”

Unpretentious and down to earth, Rata and Phil own a block off land that backs onto the West Coast beach and their home is fully off grid. Many a kayaker has enjoyed the warm welcome and hospitality in this little slice of paradise.

Rata is rich in soul. Excited to see where she takes her Waka.

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