Kia Ora! (Maori for many things, including “hello”)
Last week, CCSP ventured to the north island across the (extremely rough) waters to study sustainable community development from the perspective of several different people in society. Wellington (aka “Windy Welly”) is the capital city of New Zealand with a population about that of Grand Rapids, so a relatively small capital city.
The first three nights were spent in a marae (“mar-eye”), a traditional Maori meeting house. In order to enter, we had to go through a powhiri (“po-furry”), or a greeting ceremony, where we gave speeches, sang a Maori song, gave a gift, and greeted everyone with a hongi (nose to nose, forehead to forehead greeting). The sleeping arrangements included mattresses lined down the room side by side, so it was quite a cozy three nights! Unfortunately, no photographs are allowed in the marae, but the carvings are impeccable!
While in Wellington, we visited Te Papa museum, including a very realistic World War I memorial. Later, we also visited parliament (“The Beehive”) to learn much about policy making in New Zealand followed by Naenae Boxing Academy where boxing champion Billy Graham talked to us about being in community and making a difference in the neighborhood. Our days included many other members of the community speaking on and doing various things to improve society. It was an eventful couple of days!
On our way out of the city, we stopped to visit a large, predator-proof reserve for some of New Zealand’s most endangered species. We spent a couple hours walking through the reserve, admiring the songs of the thousands of birds and the beauty in all the species present. New Zealand is quite a special place when it comes to its wildlife.
After Zealandia, we drove to Ngatiawa to stay in a monastery for a few days. The premises of the monastery is a commitment to worship three times a day. It was so refreshing being tucked back in the hills and having intentional time in prayer and worship each day. Ngatiawa River Monastery is a place set up by Urban Vision for people to retreat to for relaxation, recuperation, or rehabilitation without the stress and pressures of city life. While in Ngatiawa, we also visited a man who takes a very strong opposition to war and has committed his life to living in voluntary poverty. I found the things he said very challenging, particularly because of the society we are raised in. I’m not sure I could ever use newspaper for toilet paper or build my home on a truck bed, but Adi’s challenge to society to live more simply and consume less definitely left us all with things to ponder.
With the state this world is in, things are going to need to change and soon…and consuming less and living a more simple life may be the answer. It goes against all that modern society teaches, but maybe that is just what we need.
Our last day on the north island (and finally a sunny one) started off with meeting with L’arche New Zealand. L’arche is about people both mentally disabled and not living in community together. Actually, a recent Hope grad is currently working with L’arche New Zealand, so it was a really great running into her! The rest of the day was a free day in Wellington city. A group of us enjoyed a day together walking the streets, wandering through the night market, and playing pool at a local pub.
The city has been great, but nothing can top the crisp mountain air and fresh ocean breeze that comes from our home in Kaikoura. And, I can’t wait to put into practice and study more some of the things learned this week in Wellington. North island, it’s been a real treat.