Tui Turns 30!

Almost 9 months ago, I promised you to write about my experience of living in one of New Zealand’s most remarkable communities – Tui. Then life happened and swept me onto new adventures and I forgot all about it. But as Tui is turning 30 this year, they have asked friends of the community to write a little something for the occasion and I realized that this was my chance to both give them my story and redeem myself to you, dear reader…

Now where did that image go?

Daylight full moon rising over a corner of Tui with the Abel Tasman National Park in the back.

 

Here is what I sent to the Tuis:

 

My name is Cornelius and I am a Danish globetrotter and community enthusiast who first learnt about community-living in the 1000-people strong Freetown of Christiania – a famous and controversial community in the middle of Copenhagen. From small grungy squats to large scale utopian projects around the world, I have since visited and studied a great deal of communities. Some of them – like Tui – I visited for the purpose of making a radio documentary. My focus with this is to document intentional communities that are long-standing and non-religious, in an attempt to uncover what makes an alternative and individually diversified community last through the generations, without succumbing to the all-too-common problems of fanaticism, commercialism and inter-personal conflict.

 

Stumbling Upon A Gem

I was hitch-hiking near Nimbin in Australia, when I first heard of Tui,  A lady who picked me up, turned out to be a fellow community aficionado and I told her about my community documentary project and that my next destination was New Zealand. Her response was to tell me about one of Tui’s founding members, Robina McCurdy, who happened to have just visited the Nimbin area to give a talk about permaculture. She then told me about Tui community and I decided then and there to visit the place, as soon as I got to New Zealand.

My second impression of Tui came from their website. I was curious to know a bit more about the community, and keen to arrange for me to stay there for a while, so I tried googling them. Having seen so many unkempt community websites over the years, I was very impressed with Tui’s home in cyberspace. Here was a community that, not only updated their website more than once every couple of years, they had also posted relevant information and up-to-date contact details!

Now where did that image go?

Me and my favourite three co-wwoofers; Ine, the Beast & Mari. A very special time that was for 4 strangers turned family.

I wrote to Tyson, the current (excellent!) visitor coordinator, and told him that I was hoping to do some work, in exchange for a few weeks of accommodation and possibly some food. I also wrote that I was interested in conducting a few interviews for my community documentary. Little did I know that I was going to spend 3 whole months there, working for the community as well as nearly every household, doing more than 20 interviews and no doubt winning some genuine friends for many years to come!

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New Zealand Snapshot Stories

Sometimes it is so much more descriptive to explain a story from a picture, and sometimes there are too many stories too tell in one blog post. So, I have put together this little gallery, showing you some of the memorable people and places I met and visited in New Zealand. There are scores more apart from these (I have had a very busy half a year in terms of meeting people) but I only had a camera for half of the time…

Anyway, hope you enjoy, click on a picture to begin!

A Tramp In The Park

Now where did that image go?

Lovely as it may look, this landscape takes its tourist toll every year with unprepared trampers getting caught out in bad weather or simply disappearing.

I have gotten hooked on tramping. That statement does not mean that I am now addicted to brothels. No, tramping in New Zealand means something in between trekking and hiking.

Everyone who has ever told me about their experience in the land of Kiwi, has always stressed the importance of tramping around the rugged alpine landscape. New Zealanders are absolutely mad about it. Every single Kiwi I have spoken to has a passion for tramping around the pristine national parks whenever they get a chance, and one can’t help wonder if this might be one of the reasons for the many earthquakes around here. (I know. That was a dad-joke.)

The lovely Inna about to cross one of the countless "creeks" en route.

The lovely Inna about to cross one of the countless “creeks” en route. She also thinks that was a dad-joke.

So it was with considerable excitement that I recently was invited on a tramp with my lovely guide Inna from Tui community. She is a veritable encyclopedia of tramping on the South Island and upon learning of my inadequate equipment she promptly arranged for me to borrow a proper sleeping bag, thermal underwear, woolen socks etc. Great Mystery knows it all came in handy when the weather turned.

Now where did that image go?

Even deep in the national parks where no vehicles have any chance of getting to, the Department Of Conservation has somehow managed to build great bridges and establish good pathways to get the trampers safely through the parks.

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The Way To Golden Bay

One time, while hitching in Australia, I was told about a small – but thriving – intentional community in a lovely sounding place in New Zealand. The driver who told me about this place made it sound so inviting that I decided to go there as soon as I arrived in Kiwi-land. And so it is that a short hitch in Oz led me to the peaceful new-age hub of Golden Bay.

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To get to Golden Bay there is only one way; over the 800m Takaka Hill. On top of the hill there is an emergency airstrip and this is the gorgeous view form there.

In 1642, the Dutch were the first Europeans to arrive in this micro-climatic, lush bay, protected from the rest of the South Island by a range of hills bordering to mountains. They had barely put their clog-clad feet on the white sand, however, before the local Maori decided to make minced meat of them. The Maori habit of devouring their enemies led the Dutch to first name this place “Murderers Bay”.

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This is one of New Zealand’s iconic house trucks. And yes, of course I have ended up living in one myself!

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