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The Barron Imports Story


About Us

Barron Imports was born in 1980, out of a need to use unusual items for landscaping and interior decorating, that were not available at the time. This worked in well with the Importer being totally committed to improving the health and lifestyle of nomadic hill tribes in Northern Thailand and Myanmar.

We now travel regularly to many countries and help the often very poor, craft people to earn a living and help family and others by producing items of interest to us, for sale on their behalf.

Our aim is to continue to help develop schools, medical programs and education facilities, as well as improve the lifestyles and health of underprivileged people, in often forgotten places. At the same time offering unique and sought after items to New Zealanders and the world, with service and reliability.


The Team

Barry Leadbeater

Dip hort, UN negotiator for 35 years. He has received many awards for humanitarian work around the world, including a knighthood, from the King of Thailand. Also 2011 nomination in New Zealander of the Year Awards, 'Local Heroes' and 'Senior New Zealander' of the Year'.

Annette Leadbeater
Dedicated to the business with a passion hard to match.


Barry and Annette both travel to India, Thailand and Myanmar [Burma] searching for different and unusual things to bring back for their customers. They go to many remote places where they get to know the villagers, enjoy the local food and become a curiosity for the children, as many have never seen western people before/

Both Barry and Annette, love what they do and get immense pleasure out of helping people, whenever and however they can


Ethical and Sustainable Trade

Ethical and Sustainable Trade - The Barron Imports way.

A substantial proportion of profit made via store sales are channeled back to the crafts-peoples villages through developmental programs, such as schools, clinics and water supply projects. We are a small operation with fewer overheads and expenses, therefore we can maintain oversight of funds, thus ensuring that money is spent where its needed most and not on the daily administration of a large organisation.

ALL wood and timber products in this store are made from recycled materials. Absolutely NO wood used in this store is sourced from native forests or via the forestry industry.


The Barron Imports Story

This story began over two decades ago, when the importer “adopted” several tribes of the ;(formerly nomadic, now settled) Karen Hill-people from the border region of Thailand & Myanmar (Burma).

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The PADAUNG(or PAH-DAWNG) tribes of the Karen Hill people; pronounced KAHRIN or KAH-REE-UNG; have long been re-known for their carpentry skills. Today they source all their materials not from the forests as they have done in the past, but by recycling timber from old wagons, wagon wheels, old houses, ploughs & farm implements, old machinery, animal water troughs and even old boats, much of which is nearly 150 years old.

Basically anything made of wood is re-used to make these unique products. The timber is traditionally stored in the open until needed. The furniture and handicrafts are almost always made from Teakwood, with a little Rosewood and Monkeywood added in some pieces. The beauty of their handicrafts can only be found in that location so are very unique. As a result, tribal populations have begun to grow again. The importer encourages the villagers to utilise each individual’s unique and personal skills to produce over 20,000 different items on a regular basis. Most of the items produced go to the United States and Canada. Some go exclusively to New Zealand, as the importer lives in New Zealand whenever he is not in Thailand.

The importer has often taken other New Zealanders to the hill-tribe villages and almost all say that it is an absolutely wonderful experience and one which they will never forget.

The importer travels to the remote hill-tribe villages at least 3-5 times a year, to live and work with them. There he not only helps the tribes acquire new skills, but also to help improve their general way of life and health. Some schools have been built, and are now so popular, that classes are rotated in shifts to cope with the high demand. Many of the tribe people now speak English and literary skills are increasing.

Long associated with the Golden Triangle and infamous narcotics trade, the hill-tribes no longer grow or use opium or any other narcotic and are all gainfully and sustainably employed.

While a majority have clean running water, they do not have road access or electric power, but are content the traditional water buffalo cart and elephant as the favoured mode of transportation.

A regular Dental clinic and Doctors surgery now operate 3 times a month. Infant mortality; in the newborn to one year age group, has now dropped from 98% to 21%.

Recently, the importer was granted a dredging and reclamation permit along the Mekong River to gather Teak wood and Rosewood logs and roots, neither of which float due to their massive weight and density. This allows for a unique and unusual form of furniture to be crafted.

Some of the Rosewood logs dredged are 2500 years old and have been preserved in the river sediment for up to 3000+ years! The wood is so hard and heavy, that it regularly burns out power-drills and saw-blades!

The finished product is absolutely amazing, with a character all of its own. None of the furniture or craft pieces are perfect, but they are all handmade with love and care. Therefore, they are all one-off pieces and have an age old character that is both dear and unique.

The importer has been overseeing this project for the past 28 years. He has been presented with many awards and citation including, in August 2007- a knighthood, from the king of Thailand, for his humanitarian efforts. He says his work with the hill tribe people will never finish. The villagers are wonderful people, who will “love you to death” with their hospitality, and their warm smiles will make your heart melt.

Furniture Story

Barron Imports are proud to present these uniquely handcrafted products, which Thai craftsman make from raw materials sourced predominately from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

These raw materials are very old teak and native indigenous hardwood from old bullock carts and wagon wheels, that make up the uniqueness of the furniture.

Teak is a hardwood therefore the furniture is made to be very hard wearing and strong.

The raw materials are estimated to be at least 80 years old, giving the furniture history and age old character.

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