We think about it all of the time. The name Pukahu, as I understood it, is rooted in Maori and describes the 'litter under the Kauri tree' (pictured above) - and brings me to thinking of the rich mulch that forms under any tree from the amalgam of dead plant matter, microbes and time. The actual Maori word means “the ever returning cycle of life and death”. It is fitting for this 5 acre plot in Kaiwaka [map] at the Otomotea Ecovillage.
There is something about respecting the process, honoring the land and understanding slowness that came together here -- we were lucky to spend 6 weeks or so letting it soak in. Letting ourselves soak in. There couldn't have been a better way to finish up the last leg of our travels. And now, years (gulp) later, we continue to carry what we learned - about permaculture and about ourselves - with us.
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.
by Robert Frost
We learned of Pukahu through a friend of mine from New Jersey - she and her partner had stayed on a long trip a year or so before we got to New Zealand. We hadn't arrived in the country with much of a plan, and from her blog I had read reflections on spending time with Wolf and Sabine's garden and orchard, seen photos from long walks of the property and learned about feijoas. I had a gut instinct and trusted her judgement - so after a few emails, we had a place to hunker down for the "end" of our trip. I put it in quotes because in many ways it hasn't really ended at all - in other ways it is certainly a capsule of time, held by this blog and our brains. More on that later.
Wolf and Sabine moved to New Zealand from Germany almost 30 years ago. Put that together with history and a deeper story emerges about instincts, about choices, about becoming architects of our own present - and therefore, future. The land was fairly barren when they first moved on to it about 16 years ago - and through heaps of hard work, community support and lots of love, it is now a rich, diverse and thriving plot. This land - beautiful rolling hills that give way sort of abruptly to inlets connecting with the Tasman Sea - feeds them almost fully. But life is not some bucolic romp. What we loved most was learning about the complexities of community living, co-ownership of land, making decisions with groups and lots of divergent opinions.