New Zealand

tomorrow it will be two weeks since i finished work. the stress of it all is still lingering in the form of general tiredness, but i am so happy to be free and able to spend time with brenda and nayou. we have been in new zealand for the last week visiting josh and natacha in gisborne. the last time we saw them was over christmas three years ago when our kids were just a year old. now tahi and nayou are almost four, and josh and natacha have a new son miro! we had an amazing time hanging out with them. the vibe is so chill up there. i forgot how much i like new zealand. the pace of life, the open spaces, the people… just being there for a week reminded me of all the good times we had when we lived there.

the main reason for our visit was to go to a hui at the community land trust we have been interested in joining. we arrived in gisborne and left the next day to go and check it out. the land is about 70km from gisborne, in a really beautiful valley. i knew it was gorgeous from the photos on their website, but what i was interested in were the people. i didn’t quite know what to expect. it turns out that they are all friendly, generous, funny people, not too different from brenda and myself. most of them have children (or are pregnant) so after the initial shyness wore off we didn’t see much of nayou for the rest of our stay.

the settlement is still in its early stages. there are no structures there apart from a small house that is used as a common space. everyone is living in campers, converted shipping containers or other temporary housing while they work through the building codes with the council.

the bathrooms are compostable toilets. apparently the humanure is very potent and everyone fights over it to put on their garden!


as far as a community goes, these guys have their stuff together. they have a very clear vision of what they want it to be, from governance to land management to interaction with the wider community. its not cult-y or naively idealstic – i found their ideas to be well formed and realistic, and i especially liked the way that they are setting it up so that individuals still have autonomy while being able to stay embedded within the larger group. there are 25 people on the land right now and by and large that vision is manifesting itself there already. this is me with bob corker, the founder of the whole project.

our friend phil from wellington also came up for the hui which was awesome.

we spent the weekend walking around the land and doing lots of hanging out. the weather was fantastic, and we also ate very well, despite the abundance of meat on the menu (many of the guys there are big on hunting and fishing!).

the most inspiring thing for me was just seeing all the kids running around with each other. it was just so joyful and free, and a big difference compared to the way you have to keep an eye out for kids in the city. they bonded really quickly!

all the baths are outdoors and heated with wood. amazing!

here is dan cooking lamb’s tails for breakfast. mmm, lamb’s tails. he had a whole bag of them!

then brenda made oatmeal and the kids went crazy for that too.

we spent the night in a very comfy red caravan. nayou was very excited to be sleeping in it.

we said goodbye after just two days together, but we are definitely going to keep in touch with them and see how things develop. we aren’t in any position to commit to anything until at least late 2012 anyway so we’ll probably go visit again around then and have a catch up. regardless of what we end up doing, it made me really excited to see people putting their money where their mouths are and making things happen!

on our way back to gisborne we stopped at the morere hot springs. this place is the first place brenda and i visited when we got to new zealand way back in 2004. the place still looks exactly the same.

nayou found a big fern and pretended to be a cockatoo.

once we got back it was more chillaxing all the way until we left. i got a chance to surf a little, brenda got a chance to sew a little and there was a lot of hanging out. this whole trip was all about hanging out, really. which was just fine by me!

the sexiest man in gizzy is not afraid to flaunt it. love the gumboots!

they keep chickens in their backyard and nayou was obsessed with checking for eggs. whenever he would find any new eggs, he would select just one and keep it in a container for a day or so before eating it.

this holiday gave us one nice surprise in the form of a two hour layover at wellington airport on the way back. we managed to have a quick get together with julia, dawud, their son kasper and glen. the time was way too short but it was still so nice to see them again. we miss youuuuuu!

here we are on the flight back, exhausted but very very happy. thanks to everyone for their hospitality and generosity, especially josh and natacha. it was a super duper holiday!