Saturday, January 17, 2009

Papatuanuku te matua o te tangata (Mother Earth is man's Parent)

The last weekend of our long and enjoyable Kiwi summer holiday the Kloss family undertook a wee camping holiday at a lovely spot less than an hours drive from home, Vinegar Hill, which is located on the Rangitikei river, a major gathering point for several rivers which roll out of the Ruahines and a few other ranges as well. It is a renowned North Island river for trout fishing, rafting, kayaking, and also offers some choice camping spots. Vinegar Hill is a council reserve, maintained by the local council, and while offering a shower and toilet bloc, operates on the honesty system of taking out your own rubbish, not starting fires unless using your own wood, and leaving the camp site chosen clean and tidy. Really not so much to ask, but more on that later. The difference between tramping and Kiwi camping in places like this is the ability to drive right to where one wishes to set up camp, and so borrowing my father in laws two room tent, and loading up his trailer with everything but the kitchen sink we set up our camp in a lovely spot. Joined by our friends Chris, Erika, and their two boys Jake and Sam, along with my young nephew Mack, we settled in to enjoy a few days by the river. Pretty luxurious life compared to lugging a big pack, but then again, a taste of Nature is always a pleasure for me.

These places and these moments are where I am at my best. Away from stuff and things, though we did have a fair amount of gear to be sure! But just enjoying the presence of these people around me, Tara, Taylor, Charlie, and Mack. Chris and Erika my dearest friends here in Aotearoa, and Jake and Sam whom I held as babies. These are the moments that slow down and take on deeper and richer hues, and we look around and breath slower, laugh easier and more genuinely, and I feel calm and capable.

My oldest son Taylor, above, and I used to be so close. When he was little he was my shadow, and at nighttime I used to think the best part of being a father was simply holding him while he slept, remembering how when I was a boy the safest place in the world for me was my father's arms. And while we perhaps are not much different than most teen age sons and fathers, this growing distance between us sometimes troubles me. It has been some time since Taylor has accompanied me to the mountains, his interests right now lie elsewhere. Yet I could see during this brief and easy trip to nature, that his early mountain wanderings have held him in good stead. He had a very assured and confident air, getting stuck into the setting up of the main tent, tying off all the knots, handling the kayak, swimming, and roaming the area, and it was refreshing to see these three teen age boys communicating with us through more than grunts and nods, at times they were positively ebullient. Taylor traveled at a very young age into the mountains, and from ages 7-13 he got to quite a few places not many those ages would get to, and maybe I pushed him a bit too hard. Perhaps the mountains are still lying inside Taylor, a gift given to him when he was very young that lies dormant waiting for him to Open. I could see the spark in his eyes. I just enjoyed resting my eyes upon him, watching him, that little boy, now a strapping young man. In the blink of an eye.

And what of little boys? Charlie and Mack played and swam, fought and made up, built dams and sand castles, found a "secret spot" and built a fort, all the things boys should be doing. It won't be too long till I take these two out to the Ruahines,though I will no doubt be a bit more testing of the waters than Taylor's full on immersion. A moment I relish the thought of is sharing Top Maropea with both Taylor and Charlie, a place so important to me, my Taurangawaewae in Aotearoa, a place I have already shared many times with Taylor, a place where I carried and buried Charlie's placenta in the Maori custom of Whenua, or Connecting to the Earth. It is there waiting for us.

Sitting around our brazier fire in the evening toasting marsh mellows and telling old stories and memories, Mackie and Charlie bravely decided they wanted to hear ghost stories, so I told my story of Brittain Brittain, the old Ruahine culler and his ghostly presence in the hut with John and I one night, the lonely howls of his dogs faintly heard on the wind. I could see Mackie mulling over that one when Taylor upped the ante with the infamous "Drip Drip Drip" tale. Just as Taylor got to the end bits, Mackie lost his nerve and came leaping into my lap clinging on for dear life and begging Taylor to stop. So he did, and as it was late for the little fellows I went and lay in the big tent with Mackie who was still clinging to me. When he fell asleep I pried myself away from him and went back to the fire to find Charlie still there with Tara waiting for me as Charlie wanted Taylor to finish the Drip Drip tale. Just as Taylor started to speak we heard a little shaky voice from the tent, "Plleeasse don't tell it Taylor, I'm really not asleep yet"!

I think that will be the one biggest memory I will have of Mackie in the years to come. Just delightful.

Charlie and I by the trailer, which allowed us to bring a large amount of gear including the Weber grill to the left, kayaks, a brazier for our outdoor fire, cots, chairs, a table and umbrella, it was all a first class set up. Tara even slept in here on the second night when the rain had settled in and her attempt to sleep with me in my mountain tent aborted when she, rather unjustly in my view, accused me of snoring too much! I also chucked a few arm loads of firewood from home on board, which Charlie and I rendered into use able pieces. So we had plenty for cooking and for our nightly fire.

And this is where this post takes a different direction. As I wrote earlier this place is a Council Reserve, meaning camping is free based on the assumption people will take out their rubbish, bring their own wood, and leave the place clean. The council has provided toilets and showers, but not bins for rubbish, nor wood for fires. Fair enough. Before setting up our camp Charlie and I filled up half a council rubbish bag full of cans, bottles, and lord knows what garbage. At around 6:00pm I began to hear thrashing from the scrub and bush around the river, like an army of possums deciding to invade. It was groups of campers in there pulling, cutting and hacking at the trees and bush for wood, and believe me there was little dead wood in there to be had. As it got dark we could see smoky fires of live wood flare up for a bit then settle into a haze making mess.

New Zealand prides itself on its "Clean and Green" image, yet for the most part that is a fallacy and it was more than driven home here in a spot we should be proud of and take care of for our selves and for our children. And I suspect these were not tourists we like to blame for our ills and stupid actions, these were home grown Kiwi campers destroying and rubbishing our own back yard.

"Be a Tidy Kiwi - Please Take Your Rubbish Home"

What can I write? Why is it more important for us to be able to drive away from nature with a tidy clean car than to leave it unspoiled? How can people actually turn onto the highway and leave this behind with a clear and guilt free conscience? Charlie and I walked by the river with a small rubbish bag and filled it with in 15 minutes full of crap, and by the time we left there was more rubbish stacked here waiting for it to become someone else's problem, someone else's concern. And the world turns.

It breaks my heart to even have to post the above photo, it brings tears to my eyes to even look at it. Every one of these big pine trees has been hacked at, chopped at, had all their branches within reach sawn off, and even desecrated further by graffiti. Each one of these huge sores weeping yellow sap, like pus representing the callous disregard by man. It is the complete representation of the brutal disconnection we have to Nature, to the Earth. I could hear these trees weeping and crying in the wind, could feel the muted song of the river as it sadly passed. It is of little wonder to me how we humans are capable of treating one another when I see this, how we can treat the Earth in a place like this. It wounds my soul and I feel a cloud of depression wanting to descend upon me. I can only fight myself, teach my children a better way, talk to my friends until I bore them to death, write to those whom read here of our need to Connect to the Earth. It is not a product, not a storage facility, not a pool of resources waiting for us to use and burn up, and it is certainly not a rubbish tip, She is our Mother, and She needs to be cherished and loved as we love our own children, family and friends. The Gifts She offers us in return are vast and beyond us, and so simple to Connect with. Go and stand in your own back yard and just let Her find you.

I can think of no better words to conclude this post with than words, the very last words, written by Sir Peter Blake before his tragic death. When I see photos like those above I realize just how important his message was, how much he was needed here, and how it is up to those with much smaller voices than his own to speak together and be heard :

"We want to restart people caring for the environment as it must be cared for, and we want to do this through adventure, through participation, through education and through enjoyment... The top of the environmental awareness mountain that we are endeavouring to climb may be out of sight through the clouds right now. But to win, you first have to believe you can do it. You have to be passionate about it. You have to really 'want' the result - even if this means years of hard work. The hardest part of any project is to begin. We have begun. We are underway. We have a passion. We want to make a difference." Peter Blake, 4 December 2001




Anonymous said...

Robb - so much to respond to, here. Your thoughts about boys growing up brought tears to my eyes, not only because of the thought of my Jack getting older and falling slowly away from me, but also of the general letting go we parents must bear, inevitably. It is just so natural that they grow away from us, from children to independent grown people, but at the same time I want to hold them close to me and never let them go. I think your Taylor will come back to you again, after these teenage years. It's a tough time. I remember mine well! :) But he'll reunite and become close with you again, I'm sure. You seem like such an amazing father, and he undoubtedly appreciates you - much more than you are aware of, perhaps.

(Also, I must agree with Tara on the snoring point - I've had to vacate the bed at times, due to a large amount of snoring and generally loud sleeping habits - grunting, talking, coughing, etc.! :)

I, too, am saddened and disheartened when I see such blatent disregard for nature and the earth. I am incredibly stunned when I see people throwing trash out of their windows, and when I come across such sights as the ones you posted here. It's just unbelievable to me that this still happens. I tend to think of people today as being somewhat enlightened on the subject, but apparently there are still those who just don't think. At least, I'd like to imagine that it's because they are not thinking, rather than that they just don't care. But both are upsetting. And it just leaves me incredulous.

And you're absolutely right - if we can't take care of the planet, how are we expected to take care of each another? What does this say about our relationship with one another as human beings? What does it say about our priorities? It does make me angry and sad, but then I think of all those people who DO care, who DO get it - like you and Robin and Gustav and D'Arcy and so many others, who are so in tune with themselves and the environment, and who perhaps do not separate the two. This thought makes me happy and hopeful for the world.

I'm glad you had such a wonderful trip. Your family is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it all with us. As usual, your quiet wisdom and lovely words and images speak to me very deeply.


Anonymous said...

Hi Robb,
First of all, thank you for this post. It is a great one. You see, there is a certain paradox as I see it - people who read your blog, care for Nature, and to them your words are only reminder of what they already know and feel... and all those who doesn't care, I think there is a very little chance for them to read your words.
And one more thought - most of the people simply don't think of caring for nature. If we could somehow make them think even a little about this, maybe they would say "wow, wait just a second, I never thought about it that way!" and that would be a start.

The pictures of the young kids are great. There is so much joy there, it can be hardly put into words. To tell you the truth I envy them. I wish I had a childhood in such a beautiful nature.

You know, New Zealand, in terms of it's Nature's "cleanliness" is very clean comparing to other places I know. When I was tramping there I found very little rubbish on trails, so, I think most of New Zealanders (and tourists) are ok!

Have a great day Robb!

Anonymous said...

Hi Robb.

It's great to hear you had such a good time, and I was saddened to read about your experience with other people who aren't as caring about the environment. As you've suggested, I'd presume that they probably weren't tourists, but I doubt they were people who spend a lot of time in the outdoors.

It reminds me of when I recently visited Maketawa Hut, 45 minutes from the North Egmont visitor's centre during a time when lots of locals were looking for things to do. It was a mess when I arrived. It also reminds me of some of the road-ends where it's impossible to park a car for a few days without expecting to return and find it stolen, vandalised, burnt out or stripped for parts.

A friend of mine who works for DOC told me that unofficially, some of them suspect there's a 3 hour rule, such that anything within about a 3 hour walk of a car-park is likely to get vandalised on a more frequent basis. If you've ever seen huts sign-posted as being 3 hours away when they're really much closer, it may be due to this.

I'm far from an expert but generally though I think parts of New Zealand have some socioeconomic problems. Attitudes of many people towards the environment, or to other people's property for that matter, aren't likely to change unless a whole host of other problems are solved first. (eg. Severe unemployment in some regions, health & education issues, generally giving people reasons to feel good about themselves and worth something and respect themselves and everyone else, etc etc.)


Marja said...

First of all I loved the beautiful words of Sir Peter Blake.I find that a lot of emigrants are more environmental aware and work in conservation. Probably the NZ people are used to the beauty and don't respect and see it anymore.
When I am passionate about it some look at me if they don't understand
I think we do have a responsibility to preserve this paradise.
I loved the pictures and your holiday story. It brought up many memories. We used to camp when the children were small and roast marsmallows above a fire.'
On the scouting camps we had an excellent story teller and as we sat around the campfire it was very quiet when he spoke.
We also have simular experiences with our elianated 14 year old, and saw glimpses of the nice kid he was on holiday.
Our 16 year old girl didn't even come with us this time. She is very strongwilled and does her own things. She is however responsible and does all the right things, so we let her go her own way. It isn't easy
It is beautiful on the pictures.
In two year time when my brother comes again we go to Lake Taupo and Roterua and discover some of the North Island

Gustav said...


A touching post and one with many reflections of a man who has seen much.

Charlie and Mack look like brothers and soul mates. Imagine the spiritual and physical mountains they will climb together.

Taylor is a fine young man and is probably going through a period of transition. I remember that from the age of about 14 to 15 my dad and I were a bit distant from each other. I was gaining my own freedoms and perspective and needed space.

We have been trading voicemails brother. I have been doing a fair bit of travel lately and am hanging with a good group of kayakers and travelers.

Maya and I are taking off for a week of rambling around Tassie. Will speak to you soon brother.

Paterika Hengreaves said...

Kia ora Robb

Thank you very much for posting accounts of your family excursion on the slopes of Vinegar Hill on the banks of the river Rangitikei. The surrounding scenery is beautiful but somewhat marred by the uncalled for abuse of the pine tree by persons who obviously don't understand the concept behind Papatanuku te matua o te tangata.

No doubt, this camping trip signaled the end of your festive holidays and the start of your job related activities. I wish you and your beautiful family much love, health and prosperity during the unfolding months ahead and beyond.

From what I have seen through pictures of your family, I do believe that your parenting skills are as good as anyone's. I have been reading thoroughly your blogs for quite sometime and your personality traits shine through as admirable indeed. No doubt about that. By and large, what comes out from within through words are clear indications of what is inside, the mirror reflection is at work, as it were, so what is within the soul is put out for others to know and understand the you. We don't share a real-life friendship by virtue that the computer is our intermediary but its technological tools and the words beamed to and fro, we know beyond faith that we are real human-beings communication across the vast universe; and the possibilities of meeting cyber-friends, which you have had the most recent experience is real. I too have met some of my cyber friends in real-time. So as cyber-pals only that's okay for if one has a genuine persona, which I have found you to have, this trait stays intact whether in real-time or cosmic time.

Now you have expressed concern that your eldest son who was once so close to you is showing drifting-away signs. Believe me that is not a problem, teenagers have this phase and is universally expected. It is a manifestation of their transitioning into adulthood. This is the phase of not being a child and not being fully an adult. Your son is responding to the phenomenon in the best way he can which seen through your eyes as distancing himself from a father's genuine love for his children. My hint to you is to give him the space he needs at this time for he is seeing his wings unfolding and soon he will be soaring on his own eagle's wings . His solar flight into the adult world he will carry with him the values you have instill in him during those tender years and he will be retrieved them and they will shine like the brightest star, but with his own brand of authentication. I'm saying this from my experience as a parent with two grown children now (daughter, son). When they became teenagers I began to doubt how effective I was as a parent. My mom told me the true test of being an effective parent has started. You'll know how successful you are at parenting by their adult manifestations seen in their behaviour. Surely, I now bash in the joy of passing the parenting skills tests by what they have truly become. So be assured that berries don't fall far from the tree; sowing good seeds bring forth fruits of its kind. I do believe those gems of wisdom handed down.

Your blog also gave snippets of camping trips in Vinegar Hill not far from the Ruahine ranges. The pictures you have taken on the camping trip with your family are beautiful. The pictures revealed gave insight into chores the group did joyfully and by all accounts, they had a fabulous time as they bonded with mother-earth in their own backyard. Your reporting of this family outing did not end with how well it turned out to be for your family but to address the need to respect the environment and to not merely give lip-service as the current trend worldwide is sending off by their actions. I was particularly pleased that you took sometime during your camping trip to focus on the need to enjoy mother-earth without leaving her stressed with environmental hazards. Those thoughts that you have expressed in the blog focused on the care and love of the environment in your own backyard. The camping site as you have said is only one mile from your home on the borders of the Ruahine ranges your spiritual place and source of inspiration. So it is quite national that your camping on Vinegar Hill would have as top priority for you the enjoyment of the place without abuse by strangulation and mutilation of mother-earth's accessories. Fantastic example you have set for the young ones on the camping trip mixed with pleasure and responsibility. I tip my hat off to you.

I wished that other users of mother-earth would follow your example. However, sadly that is not the case with some folks who practice illegal deforestation and amputation of mother-earth's limbs in the most grotesques manner imagined and torture her outer-wear as seen in the picture of the poor pine tree with lacerations and if that was not enough graffiti on top of insult. Please send me the picture of that poor pine tree so I can write a sad poem on it. However, there is a dim light showing that points toward addressing the grievances of mother-earth has at the moment. The leaders of the free world and the not so free are taking up the banner with revitalized hope on what workable measures must be put into practice to protect the environment (mother-earth) . The onus now is on every man, woman and child to practise sound environmental management techniques and strategies. It is not too late. Following in love with mother-earth gives us the guarantee that she will shower us with blooming kisses and awesome smiles and the avalanche of her tears so prevalent worldwide will subside and go away the final quest. Where there is a will there is a way. Yes, we can meet these environmental goals and as you, Robb is preaching, through education but this education as you have shown must go beyond the theoretical base and be supported with practical applications starting in our own backyards. The practical application you have demonstrated on your camping trip with your family serves as an exemplar. Your camping family took care of their own garbage and sadly had to give relief to mother-earth by picking garbage left by uncaring anonymous folks.

In closing, thank you Robb for this magnificent blog. I wish you would start the work of publishing a magazine for the Ruahine Ranges on care and enjoyment. So far, you are doing fabulous job with your soft publication (your blog). You need to put hardcopies in bookstores all over New Zealand. Let me know what help I can be for you in this venture should you decide in an email.


kylie said...

hi robb,

i, too, think your photos of the boys are beautiful and joyous.

my boy liam has just turned 14 and he shows no sign of distancing himself from me. i sometimes wonder if i am going to make a mummys boy of him but i also know that he quietly heads his own way when he wants.......

they say that a boy is his mums for the first seven years, his dad's for the next seven-ish and then he looks to other male mentors. i bet you are/have been/will be that mentor for some young men. and your choice friends are likely to become the mentors for your boys.

i wish that people would take care of their environment, where ever they happen to be at the time but it seems that ease often wins over honour

lovely to have you gracing my blog


Unknown said...

Getting away from stuff and things.

Exactly right.

I am in the midst of the cold cold bitter cold. But this post reminded me that my summer of camping and mountains is not too far away.

I was fed this weekend with a wealthy well of words from some young poets who just know how to jam. I was amazing that the simple act of putting words together to form sentences I have never heard, placed thoughts I have never thought and gave voice to words I have never spoken in such a way before.

These are the moments of beauty. These are my reality. I love life. I love art. I love nature. I love thinking. I love reflecting. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE when somehow all of these things come together, as they did for you and your family!

Unknown said...

And DITTO to Ophelia's comment. I have to keep thinking about all of us who DO care.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ophelia,
After reading your words at your own place, your poem and your Wild Things post, I KNOW you got where I was coming from, EXACTLY. I fully understand your tears. You had me reading them over and over, and that conversation is a beauty.
I sometimes feel guilty that watching my son, sons, grow up, not only represents how much I love them and apprecitate even being part of their lives, but also my own time passing and always questioning if I am Living Fully? I took words in your poem for the same question.
It is good to know there are Kindred Spirits About!
As to the Earth, your presence in my life, as is Robin's, is due to how much you care and treasure the Gifts. Both of your tears would have fallen with mine and you would felt exactly as I felt. We have begun, if only one at a time, with each other, with our children, our families, our friends, but we have begun.
Thank you Ophelia, kia kaha my amazing poet, writer friend!

Ruahines said...

Tena koe Greg,
I realize that to the people whom read here I am simply preaching to the coverted. Yet we still must share and relate these experiences so we share them with others through retelling, or better yet, through our actions. That concept is as old as the hills mate. Much of what I wrote here is simply venting to people whom I know will not only understand, but quite possibly become more cognizant. We only have One Earth, and I will never tire of writing that message.
I sometimes wonder if the reputation we Kiwi's have about clean and green, and being clean, is not as much myth as simply our small population.
Cheers my friend, hope you had a great holiday season and got Out There!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
Happy New Year Mike! I hope you had a cool time in New York, bit tough in winter to get into Nature, but possible. Look forward to reading of your journey.
Mike, I hope we are fortunate enough to share a hut in the Ruahines one evening. I would love to share a wee dram and just talk and share.
I fully agree with your premise of disconnectedness being due to "others" whom are marginalized,or victims of generations of misguided social policy,and created this socioeconomic class you write about. My observations of Vinegar Hill were that it was a complete mixture of New Zealand, Maori,White,Islanders, Asian, they were all about. And judging by the looks of the vehicles people were driving there was again a range between it all. The Disconnectedness was what connected all of us in this sort of place.A place we all should have relished.
Over the years I have lived here in Aotearoa I have held many jobs, spent a lot of time amongst both ends of the spectrum. In my view, there are just as many completely disconnected among the rich, the priveleged, the movers and shakers. Is it worse to let a "Property developer", a discription for mostly white men wearing golf shirts and cell phones to their ears, loose upon New Zealnd? Sorry, I borrowed that last line from my favourite song writer, Tom Russell, but it fits aptly. Is it worse to have a broken in car from time to time, an experience I have never had by the way, or to lose our rivers, hills, and any place that can be developed, forever?
Mike I do not mean to rave here, and as I wrote, the best place for this sort of discussion is in the mountains. Perhaps one day, and thank you for tuning in here.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
In two years time when you travel here with your brother, you have to come and stay a night with us and I will take you on a visit to the Ruahines! If only a walk for the day it is a place I would be honoured, and love to show you both.
You are onto something about people whom come here, and choose, to live being so much more exposed, and amazed, by this Land. Not all, but most. Perhaps it is also the concept of understatement so prevelant in New Zealand. Particularly amongst males.
Thank you for words about kids, a never ending mystery, eventhough I was once one myself. Every time I talk to my mom now I tell her how much I love her, how sorry I was for even being 13-18, and how amazing she really is. So are you.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,

I await your interpatation of that photo with a trembling forboding. Again, I KNOW you would have sensed what I felt even before I did. You, Ophelia, or Robin, would have pointed it out to me. It was slower to come upon me in this joyful presence of family and friends
and the business of setting up camp. It came upon me like the winter mist, just settled there and caused me to look around and really see.
Paterika, the night I spent with Bob in Christchurch I could feel your presence there. I have no doubt, that meeting you would be no different than the smile on my face right now, Charlie by my side wanting me to come and read him a story. Thank you for your reassuring words on family. Thank you for your presence here. Thank you for your aroha for Aotearoa, for all Nature, for the Earth. You are always a welcome guest here my friend,

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Gustav,
My brother, how I miss you, even on the phone to hear your laughter is good for my Soul. We need to connect. We need to sit and listen to "The Beauty of the Days Gone By", over and over.
Let's get into the Ruahines and get after some of those trout. We know some spots deep amongst Her that few get to brother!

Ruahines said...

Tena koe Kylie,
Noho ora mai ra e hoa to you, your family, and to your Connection to this Land which will always be with you.
It is cool to have you here as well, and your words are always welcome.
So where are you from here? What is your connection to Aotearoa? I am not trying to be nosy, just keenly interested you are a generation removed from a land moved to and found this amazing connection to some really cool places. It may all be all be for a reason.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
This is your Year. I loved your post, and your journey to New York and getting amongst all that poetry and happening is only the start. Saul Williams reminds me so much of a young Gil-Scot Heron, all those poets do, the out rage, the anger, the out spokedness, the confrontation. The mere fact they are there makes me appreciate America just a bit more.
You are on a Journey this year my friend, and I look forward to being a part of it, and if it brings you to this part of the world, you are Welcome.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Robb

I have been so busy lately I have hardly looked at another blog. Reading this postings brought warm feelings of pride when I look at our great outdoors and a sense of joy when I read and look at the photos of your whanua enjoying those striking places.

By contrast the garbage, the destruction of trees stabs the heart. Sadly it has been going on for centuries. For many a car park or a camping ground is and end. For many of us it the beginning, a start of a journey and like the bottom of a ladder, we treat it almost with awe or respect, because we have to come back the same way. The days I have spent picking up other people's crap, and carrying it out, I have forgotten.

"Take me beyond the snowline where life is sheared back to its basic dimensions, and I am so high that I cannot see the windmills and garbage."


kylie said...

hi robb,
i wrote a long comment here a couple of days ago but somehow i didnt post it!
in essence, what it said was that i would need to talk with mum to make sure i got my facts straight but that she spent her childhood in te aroha and her early adulthood in hastings.......
i'll be back :)


Anonymous said...

Robb I have an "Premio Dardas" award , waiting for you to collect from my blog. It is for the "appreciation of merits - culturally, literary and individual" featured on a blog. I think yours more than qualifies my friend! As often happens when I am late in commenting on your posts, previous statements and opinions express eloquently my thoughts also.I grieve when I see trees and rocks graffitied and think "you should not have to wear this-or suffer this as a statement". I feel this way when I see elephants which have been "broken in"ridden for work purposes, also.I understand the necessity for income, but methods are appalling. If only we could rise to the nobleness of things instead of trying to tether, harness, and mark things as ours to denegrate...and as my husband said about teenagers ,"you get them back again in their twenties". True too!Family is everything. If everything in the world disappeared, it would still be who we would search for first and foremost- those we love.You do a good job Robb because that shines through a lot.

maya said...


Good to hear your viking spirit yesterday.

Maya and I are traversing Tassie for a week starting this Sunday and we will be doing some paddling as well.

Nature is a fine place to learn about the world.

Peace and happiness to you and everyone.

Maithri said...

Kia Ora Robb,

Once again you heart speaks so beautifully in this post...

I have always felt that to be connected to the earth... To feel nature as our brother, our sister, our parent... represents a deep and powerful spirituality which so much of the western world has evaded or simply missed out on...

When I come here I always feel the mountain air... The peace of souls connected to the earth...and that thanks to your humility and peace my brother.

I am honoured to walk the path with you,

Blessings of peace to you and Tara and the boys,


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
I love that last quote you wrote, and will use that as my mantra.
I know you have been busy not only with rehabbing your new knees but also family and work. I hope your visit to Geneva will prove fruitful.
You especially would be aware of how so many can be disconnected not only from Nature, but also from even being connected to each other. I do know the anger and sadness of coming across mountain huts with rubbish left behind, and I could go on for ages about my thoughts on the reasons and causes of that, but will refrain. We just have to care.
Cheers Bob,

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
Well that is cool! It practically makes us "Whanau" as Hastings is certainly within Ruahine country! And the Ruahines are certainly my Taurangawaewae away from my original place, my Spiritual Home. I shall look forward to reading from you.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
Thank you for your always well considered thoughts, and also for the award. I really appreciate your husbands words about teens, and reads as if he is a wise man. I think we sadly underestimate how much we make nature suffer as it has no voice to relate to that disconnectedness. I try to be one, and having poeple such as yourself being a voice as well brings light to my soul.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora my Brother,
Glad to read you and Maya are undertaking a Journey in Nature together. I look forward to reading about it.
It was, and always is a pleasure to connect in Real Time, even if only by voice. Our time for actual connection and presence in person is well over due and we must make that happen. Any chance of joining me for my annual birthday Ruahine wander this July?

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, what a super and poignant post. Have you seen the latest space junk photos from NASA. It irks me that we even have junk floating around in space.

You have such beautiful times and know the best places your family can enjoy. :D

Beautiful and interesting photos!!!

Cheers! Nancy

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Maithri,
You are always welcome here my friend. The message of Love you carry forth in your work and at your place inspires me to be a voice for these places which cannot speak. May the gentle mountain breeze blow upon you.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
I have not seen those photos, and am almost afraid to look. It's not enough for us to pollute the earth and it reads as if we have a good start up there as well.
Just like the UP it is not very hard, or very far, to find cool places. We just have to do a better job in caring for them. Have a great day JJ.

Anonymous said...

"Plleeasse don't tell it Taylor, I'm really not asleep yet"!

I just LOVE this! Oh god, such precious Life.

This whole post is so LOADED I hardly know where to start. You know I relate to your love of the Earth and your plea for the trees.
I walk a high mountain trail with the most exquisite towering aspen and yet, all along the trail the aspen are cut and gouged with graffitti. "Susy loves Jonny", "Joe 1990", "Betty and Donny Forever", etc, etc, and then worse, are all the foul swear words cut into them. I'm not a prude and don't really balk if someone swears, but to see that human CRAP...CUT...into trees saddens me deeply. Some of the trees are so gouged and cut they can't repair themselves and die a slow death. And someone I know who hikes a lot told me, "Oh, it doesn't effect the trees. They just grow around it." I looked at them and thought, "How can you say you love nature and tell me it doens't matter or bother the trees. Did you ASK the trees? That gouging is not 'art', and they don't all heal. How can you say that when you see these struggling trees trying to regrow their bark." I also wanted to say, "It's not just a matter of whether the tree lives or not, it's a matter of integrity and considering whether we are hurting the trees, and whether they WANT our name gouged into them. It's a matter of us humans NOT seeing them for LIVING beings that have a right to their own existence independent of human need or desire. People, please don't carve your name in trees.

Sorry Robb, I know I rant, but I can't help myself. And thank you for picking up trash. I do too.

I LOVED these photos. Your thoughts and feelings and questions and passion for Life. The boys are BEAUTIFUL. When you spoke of Taylor I thought of myself at that age. Prior to those years I too was show nature and taken into it ALL the time. Although I pulled away from both Nature and my parents during my teens, as I grew older I returned to both, BECAUSE somewhere along the a child...I had become nature. It's in Taylor's bones and imprinted on his soul. He will one day grow hungry and return to that which feeds him on the deepest level. They are all beautiful boys, with faces BURSTING with Life.

This looks like it was so much fun. They won't forget it. Ever. Nor will you.

Thank you for such an impassioned and thought provoking sharing. I am deeply moved by it all.
Aroha dear friend,

Anonymous said...

Looks...warm...I tried to fish a stream here yesterday, my guides kept freezing...

kylie said...

hey robb,
well the story of mums family/ my family in new zealand is full of interesting tidbits (to me, anyway)

my grandmothers family came from norway at a time when scandinavia was in famine and new zealand was looking for workers to open the country. NZ had some kind of incentive scheme to make it more attractive. we dont know for sure that the Petersens migrated for that reason but it would be a reasonable guess. my nana was the first generation born in NZ. she was born and raised in the "king country"

on my grandfathers side: his mother's family were the first pakeha to settle just because they wanted to, not for trade or whatever. they were popular enough with the local maori that they were given something like honorary maori status.

my great grandfathers family were in new zealand and moved to australia for unknown reasons. then my great grandfather was contracted to take some horses from australia to south africa, probably for the boer war. he jumped ship in new zealand and the family were back in new zealand !

when my grandfather was about 18 his alcoholic father decided to move to the dry area of the coromandel peninsula and i think that is where nana & pa met.

there was a move to te aroha early in mums life and then to hastings when she was a teenager.

my uncle lives in havelock north and his kids nearby.

my aunt and her family are spread around the country. there's a few of them and i lose track of what goes on with them.

i cant imagine all of this is quite as interesting to you as to me but there you have it!

thanks for your kind words at my blog. you might be overestimating me but i'll take all the positive reinforcement i can get :)

take care

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Naval,
Welcome and feel free to visit anytime. i will check out your place.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
I knew you would feel exactly as I did, do. There is no justification whatsoever for desecrating sacred wild places, period. If I teach my children anything it has to be that. To me, if we revere the Earth, we can than revere one another. I know that reads as very simplistic but I really feel it in my soul. Maybe it is my mission to help reconnect people to that Truth.
Thank you for your words about Taylor, I think he will come to that as well, but I want to find the Gift rather than keep holding it in front of him.
It was a fantastic time spent with my family, even with a few sad moments. But those sad moments of seeing this beautiful place warts and all, also allowed us all to learn. especially the little ones.
Kia ora Robin, your spirit was there as well and you helped me to see.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyte,
Glad to bring some warmth to you! Those mountains will be waiting for you I am sure. Stay warm.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
Most interesting and thank you for the update. You are not, by chance, related to the Kemp family are you? How cool of your grerat grand parents to be so accepted by the Maori, so do you have Maori blood as well in the family? Your roots to Aotearoa are obviously strong and I am glad we have connected. I don't think I am over estimating you at all, you are very cool - and I have met some fellow bloggers so my senses are pretty good! Have a lovely day.

kylie said...

my cousin karen is married to hugh kemp !

kylie said...

oops, i was so excited about the kemps and all i didnt answer about the maori blood:

theres none in the blood line but
my uncle had three adopted kids, two of whom were part maori (one died as a wee thing)

by some genetic surprise thing mum looks maori enough that the maori themselves sometimes thought she was one but she's not!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Robb,

You wrote: "To me, if we revere the Earth, we can than revere one another. I know that reads as very simplistic but I really feel it in my soul. Maybe it is my mission to help reconnect people to that Truth."

Two immediate thoughts.

1. It's not simplistic, merely over looked. That is WHY I go out and roll in the snow or down a cactus covered hill. Because it IS the overlooked (the seemingly simple) that will heal us all and save us all. And to contradict myself -- and I know you understand me completely -- Life really IS simple. It is only us humans who make it otherwise. Make it so complicated that we actually BELIEVE that life IS complicated.

It is not.

2. "To me, if we revere the Earth, we can than revere one another. I know that reads as very simplistic but I really feel it in my soul. Maybe it is my mission to help reconnect people to that Truth."

This whole quote is right out of Abbey or Thoreau or or or. AND I REALLY do believe that is your mission. You have connected to and revere that which humanity has disconnected from. You are plugged in and "SEE" and "FEEL" the living Earth around you. Whereas humanity as a whole (collective) is unplugged and they now set about trying to recreate that which they lost, that which they cannot live without, that which they desperately hunger for. When all they have to do is STOP running, stand still for a moment, be quiet and hear the Earth calling to them. Saying, "Come back, I am here, I will sustain you, I will teach you, nourish you, enrich you in the ways that you hunger for, I will love you."

It is this voice of the Earth that you hear Robb. That you ARE. It why your soul MUST be with Mother Nature. As you know I am the same.

I want you to know that you are seen and have a great heart purpose. And you are already doing it on these pages. When you walk into the mountains you are not only glad to see them; THEY are glad to see YOU. You not only feel THEM; THEY feel YOU. And all of us who are connected to Earth feel you as well Robb.

Thank you dear friend for instilling the best in me and inspiring me to be who I am.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
I have a good friend, who now lives in Korea, but grew up in Hastings and is a Kemp on his mothers side, his grand father was Alfred Kemp. Don't know if that is a relation but it is a small world. Family history is important and we should all be, like the Maori, cognizant of our roots and our stories. Have a lovely day Kylie, Kia kaha.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
You are so right my wonderful friend, Life is Simple and thank you for always being there to remind me of that.
Your words on Nature ring so true and clear within me. You are a kindred Soul in so many ways, of that I have no doubt, and your joy and laughter has so much to teach me, and the world.
I know there is so much for us to be concerned about in the world, disease, hunger, racism, inequality, war, materialism, and so on, and I feel all of that, sometimes too much. So I am finding myself, and my voice, in caring for, and loving the Earth. Some of us just have to break it down that simply in a complicated equation. Otherwise it can be too crippling. There is so much disconnectedness to overcome, and to me, once we have plugged back into ourselves perhaps more answers will become clear.
I was just lying on my bed reading to Charlie, and became distracted by the bush outside the window, just layers of green that swayed in the gentle breeze. Charlie knew what I was looking at.
Mother Earth is never far away, but we have to let Her In. And those mountains are once again Whispering in my ear! Thank you for your presence here Robin, you always make me smile. Kia kaha.

Patry Francis said...

Thanks for reminding me what an extraordinary world it is through your words, your photos, and the spirit you always convey. It shines!

Anonymous said...


Being the Coyotes uncle I get a bit concerned about him being "lost" but I see he is not all that lost if he ends up here on your blog.

To your insight I say

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Patry,
Thank you, I am so happy to share this with you. Kia kaha!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora mfb,
The Lost Coyote is always welcome here, as are you, as I take refuge at his place as well. I feel very kindred to him for some reason.