Tipene | Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty

“I’ve had a lot of young people come and stay with me, just to experience where I live, which is quite beautiful, and they come from all over the world.

For example, I had a couple of American girls that came from Olympia University in Washington State, and they came here particularly to study Māori birth practices, and gardening. We had a great time. I’ve had people from Iraq, France, Uruguay, all come down and stay with me for a little while. An American girl from Nevada, part of the Navajo Nation, came and stayed. She was a water-protector. So I love having people come and stay with me, to just teach them a little bit about our history, our culture, Māori.

One Iranian guy, he taught me all about cats, and how cats communicate, and so, there I was talking the wrong language to my cat all these years. Now, I speak fluent cat. So, that’s one. But it’s more about what I teach them, because I garden my place permaculture, so they come down to learn a bit about that, but I also get to experience their cultures. For example the two girls from Olympia, that’s a very alternative type of education institution over there, Olympia University. Very much out of the mainstream. So, I learned a lot about them, about their  goals towards sustainability and saving the world from pollution and everything else that other universities don’t seem to factor into the curriculum. 

We’re on a continual learning trip, that’s the journey all our lives. We never stop learning, but it’s connecting with people and finding out what forms their worldview. What makes them think, what makes them tick? I had a girl, for example, who came from the South Island, who didn’t realise, she had Māori whakapapa, she didn’t know how to go about finding it. I still keep in touch with her quite a bit, but she’s found her Māori whakapapa now and embraced it and has gone on with it. She’s quite confident now, as a New Zealand, that she has a sense of belonging here.

Everybody has goodness in them. Everybody has something that they can leave with you, even though you may not recognise it until they’ve gone, but every contact you’ve had with every person is meant to be. It’s brilliant and it forms the way you form your life’s path.

I grew up down the East Coast till I was about 10 years old, and then everybody sort of shifted from the country back in the ‘60s into town. So, mine was pretty much the Boy story, if you like? This potential when you’re young, wondering what’s out there in the big world, and then you go out in the big world and you find out there’s a lot more out there, that’s why I just love meeting people.”

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