Born in Northland, Jacki Key grew up living the classic Kiwi idyll: fishing, gathering, and living off plenty of homegrown food. The local kauri forest and the beach were both her playground and classroom, the foundation of a lifetime’s interest in social issues, sustainability, and the environment.
“That ethos still sits with me,” she says. Though she didn’t know it at the time, her upbringing instilled a strong sense of social justice and she developed a special talent of building bridges to bring together people of different beliefs and cultures.
Key is now based in another beachside idyll, Tauranga, and considers herself a storyteller focused on social responsibility, particularly equality, and environmental protection. Those themes are evident in her personal documentary work, and also come in handy for her professional editorial and commercial shoots too.
“I really like bringing people together and breaking down barriers, and I try to bring that about through my work,” she says. “I want everyone to be equal. The doctor needs the rubbish truck driver just as much as the driver needs the doctor, so why do we have these class distinctions?
“I find it quite easy to mix with people from all sorts of places and I enjoy connecting people beyond those false walls society sets up,” she says. “I think everyone should be treated the same, and I don’t let any barriers get in the way of telling human stories.”