Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ka Kite Ano

The Ruahine mean, and have brought so much to my life, which I have tried to share through my words and photos here. I am in the process of examining EVERYTHING in my life. Some are fortunate to know this when they are young, to seek at all times who you really are, and that which defines the values and the ethics you choose to live by. For me, it has come late, but it has come. At least I think.

Eventually that had to come around to the mountains, to the Ruahine, and what they have meant to me, the role they have played, the way I want to have my future interactions with such a huge place, with such meaning, in my life. I want to find the Truth about who I am so that I can honour and treasure this place and have the times I can spend there be full of love and integrity. They are not right now, the balance is skewed and I have simply become a Taker, a User, an Appropriator, and I am giving nothing back to them.

I go to the mountains when I am empty from my trials and tribulations out here. I go to the mountains to be renewed and filled with mana and life once again because all that has been drained from me out here. I go to the mountains to simply find the energy to carry on out here with my relationships with my wife, family, and friends, not to mention the state of the world as I see it and try to live amongst it. Soon the lightness I obtain there is drained away and I return again to the Ruahine to simply take more from her grace. So I am essentially draining the place I love most of her energy and leaving nothing in return. There is something fundamentally wrong with that, wrong with me. And it is a place I love too completely to dishonour in such a shallow way. And in my heart I know I am also dishonouring myself.

I want to experience what it is to enter this sacred place when I am already full of spirit and aroha, when I take that first deep breath of mountain air and feel myself ready to burst as I am already so full of life. I have to live out here as I live in the mountains, and I have had that all twisted and turned around.

So I am examining all this out here now, and making myself confront who I am as a man, a husband and father, a friend, and a human being. It is exhausting and terrifying at times, and at times already has been full of tears of both pain and joy. It is like learning to breathe and walk all over again. A journey I am finally ready for at the age of fifty.

It means I have to write Ka kite ano (Goodbye for now to people I know) here in this place I also have grown to love, and to people whose presence I also love and honour, at least for now (I mean your presence and honour always, just me being here for now). Till I can write with the complete feeling of honesty and truth I want to feel. Not that I have not shared my entire fibre and love for the Ruahine and all wild places here. What I want to do is to write that way even when I have not just been there, and right now I cannot. That is not truly honouring my love for the Ruahine. This journey does not hold room right now for me to be here. I do hope to return, but I do not know when, if at all. It doesn't mean either that I am giving up on the Ruahine and wild places. Her mountain breeze is always upon my face, the sweet water always slakes my thirst, and the smell of woodfire one I will always seek. I just need some time to get my shit together.

To so many friends here, kia ora, and I will still check in at your places , even if silently for awhile. You have been places of refuge and grace for me, and it is an honour to have had you here, and I hope you will return when I can once again do this with complete Truth. Seek out those Wild Places and Rave On. I truly hope to see you soon. Kia Kaha!




Donald said...

Dear Robb

You have posted with honesty from your heart. A new journey begins!

If it's any help I've spent the best part of my lifetime bringing what I've felt in the mountains into my every day life. It's a challenge!

It's simple to me in those special places: black and white, with no shades of grey. By contrast life in society is coloured by many flavours. Whereas I strive to work at simplicity.

Slowly it comes.

You say you've taken from the Ruahine, but have you considered that you bought it back and shared it unselfishly with us and your family? Thereby helping the rest of us live with increasing equanimity.

Thank you for your gift - one I treasure!

Take care brother - write when you feel it's the right time



Marty Mars said...

Kia ora e hoa

You writing has inspirted and uplifted me. Thank you for sharing so much Robb.

Kaitiakitanga is about being part of the area being protected. Those place are in you as you are in them and it is a living, evolving relationship. You give to the ruahine as they give to you - you enhance the mana of the ruahine as they enhance your mana, you reenergise the ruahine as you become reenergised.

Kia kaha Robb - if you get to Takaka come and have a catch up.

kylie said...

i am not at all sure what you mean but i struggle everyday to get my shit together and i know you have to do what it takes so go do that until you feel whole.
as for you taking energy from the ruahine, dont forget that energy is never lost or created so whatever you take from the mountains is redistributed to a place where it is needed, eventually to return to the mountains.
i take energy from the sea, the sun, friends, family......
sometimes all i seem to do is take but one day i'll redistribute that energy to the place it's needed

take care

lph said...

Obviously we don't know the journey you are about to take...but with my heart I wish you the best of luck.

I have found great joy reading your words and seeing your photos over the last couple of years. And getting reacquainted with you after we went our separate ways.

Good luck...and if you are patient and diligent you will find the truth!

Take care Robb...and stay in touch!


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...


I have got my leave. Bid me farewell, my brothers!
I bow to you all and take my departure.
Here I give back the keys of my door
---and I give up all claims to my house.
I only ask for last kind words from you.
We were neighbors for long,
but I received more than I could give.
Now the day has dawned
and the lamp that lit my dark corner is out.
A summons has come and I am ready for my journey.

Rabindranath Tagore

Allan Stellar said...

Ah, shit...

Another age 50 transition.

Hope all is well with you. I have so very much enjoyed who you are, as conveyed here (and elsewhere). Someday I hope to take a hike with you... and have a dram or two of something special.



Marja said...

You don't have to feel gullty The mountains are there for a reason. Just as the flowers are there for us to enjoy. They don't ask for a price. they are just there.
Furthermore i think when you listen to your inner voice you will find all the answers you need to know. There is great knowledge within you. Trust. Reflection is good and I am sure you will arise as a new person. Bless you and good luck on your journey.

Kiwi Nomad said...

Until we meet again.... Robb, you have inspired me with your tales of time in the Ruahines... and this year I hope to get back up there a bit. Thanks for all you have shared.

greentangle said...

Robb, you're certainly not alone in going to a wilderness for emotional or spiritual refreshment. That's long been cited as both a "practical" reason for not destroying them, and in variations by all those we love and admire--Thoreau, Muir, Abbey, etc.

Sometimes it seems those who are already up ahead of most of humanity scouting for a better way of life are harder on themselves than they need to be. Explore and struggle and reach for integrity, but don't be too hard on yourself along the way.

Take care, my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora to all,
It is so cool to come here and view this place and read words of people whose presence I enjoy very much. I have read them all, many times, very carefully and considered. Kia ora for caring and sharing, it means the world to me. I just need some time to sort out who I am there with who I am here. To be more like who I am in the mountains all the time. I have some very beautiful and wonderful people in my life who care enough to notice. I will be back, just when I am really ready. Kia kaha to each and every one of you.

Donald - black, white, grey, you get it, you understand an instinctive part of me. I look forward one day to you and I, and a few others, will be at hanging out in the mountains for a few days, and I believe it will happpen.

Marty, I will be up that way next Waitangi Day, where my beautiful wife and I have been invited, and I would love to meet you and spend some time in a good korero. Till then, Kia kaha e hoa!

Kylie, I will never forget or misplace the Ruahine, just need to find some more of me here. I will never let the mountains leave me. They have been the only part I can hang onto at times. You are so cool Kylie, and at the moment I have no idea of how we even came into each other's orbit, but I am so honestly glad we did. Aroha and Kia kia kaha.

Larry, its all good mate. And to think we go back 30 years or so, saw Tom Waits in the Twins (one of my live musical highlights). Hey e hoa, (my friend), pronounced like a fonzi "a" and a Santa 'Ho' with an "ah" on the end, you are always welcome here, and if not, I hope we can someday meet again at the The Terrace. That would be cool. Kia kaha for the Birkie my Brother!

Bob - That poem, those words are so awesome! Kia o
ra e hoa! You bloody Kiwi celebrity you! Bob, you are the only man I know who would have two knees replaced a few mere days ago and still feel a need to meet Tara and I at the airport. Then again, someone had to warn us about being driven in a car by Aroha! Your family is so lovely Bob, and somewhere in there is a reflection of you. We will be in the mountains one day e hoa, drinking scotch and smiling with the moment.

Allan, wasn't even a fifty thing. More people closer to me telling me I was not hearing. So I have simply decided to Listen for a bit.
I would love to have a night in the wild, either here or there, with you. Tin cups in hand.

Marja, I am quite sure I will return in due course. I just some time to focus on other things. I will be around. You and I are kindred souls in many ways. I honour that.

KN, if I have I inspired anyone to reconnect with the Wild it has to be Good eh! That is why I want to write, but I have to write when it flows through me here like there. Kia ora e hoa. I thoroughly have enjoyed, and will enjoy, your presence here and at your place.

GT, all true e hoa. Just need to get it all sorted in my own head out here. In there, by the sound of the gentle river, or on a howling wind ridden ridge it is just so easy. I need to relate to the sounds out here like I do the music in there. Right now, I am just not very good at that, but I need to be for the people here I hold true. Hope you have had a warm winter my friend. That's all.

Dave said...

Good luck on your journey, Robb, and thanks for all the words and photos you've shared here.

Anne-Marie said...

robb, best wishes on your journey, i hope we will see you back in the blogosphere before too long. kia kaha, anne-marie

troutbirder said...

When I lost my oldest son it was time to rethink my roles. To bring a smile or a little joy to others lives, to help and defend others who are suffering, to revere & hold close those places we shared and the memories, to seek new avenues expressing and sharing the natural world. Your will find new goals and realize that age does not diminish the core of who were are.....
Good luck Robb

vegetablej said...

Wow. I hope it's a sabbatical.I do know the feeling of running out of steam in blogging. It happens when you change but somehow feel that you are expected, or are forced, because of the context of your website, to be something or write in a way that doesn't quite seem authentic any more.

When that happens, you have to decide whether to just keep on writing, in a new way, and let those who will follow or drift off. Sometimes people start a new blog with a new focus or broaden their writings.

But if it's something deeper, that you want to change but don't know how yet, then time off will hopefully help. I do think that middle age can be a stepping off point for great personal growth, as we open ourselves to rediscover who we really are.

Warm wishes and best of luck for that and everything else.


Tracey Axnick said...

Hello my New Zealand friend. I am sure you and your loved ones are FINE, but I can't help but be a bit concerned after the horrible images I'm seeing on the news tonight. I do hope no one you and Tara know/love is directly affected by this horrible earthquake.

Life is indeed so precious....

Ruahines said...

Kia ora,
First to all, we are fine up here in the north island. Christchurch is pretty ruined and everyone in our little beautiful but volatile land knows someone down there, so it has affected Aotearoa in a heavy way. Including our prime minister basically blaming Papatuanuku ( Mother Earth) for bringing this devastation upon the people who live upon it's ever changing surface. I read it between the lines as a continued future attack to gain revenge or declare war on the earth by our government. But I must set all that aside right now and write most of the people I know there are alive and safe, though great damage has been done to areas and some I know have had their houses ruined and a few I cannot yet verify their safety. And the amount of people who will no longer want to live in that area will be enormous. This is a huge thing for our land.
Dave: cheers, and I will most likely be back in due course, just some things I need to get straight in my own head, and my own life outside the hills. I will continue to enjoy your place.
Anne-Marie - I am sure you will see me here before too long. I am enjoying your place as always and you seem to be in a very cool place. Good for you. The dreads look great by the way. Maybe we can catch up for a coffee in Wangas when I come down that way this winter for work. Please stay in touch.
Kia ora VJ, you got it e hoa. It is not that I do not feel entirely when I write and share of my Love of mountains trips and how that impacts me. I do. But what I have come to face is WHY I do not feel that way when I am out here. So that is where I want to get to, or address, and it is cool to have people I love challenge me to at the very least make me look at that. So I suspect that before long I will be back ranting and raving more than ever. I feel pretty good. Been digging your political slant, and been smiling. Still cooking hard too my friend. Kia kaha! Aroha - Robb
Tena koe Tracey - Kia ora for your thoughts and more so to those in Christchurch whom need them more than we. We are fine, well removed from that area. As I wrote above this is a huge thing for our tiny land and we will have repurcussions to deal with for years to come I suspect. As i wrote above, the family (through Tara) I have there are alive and well, but some of their homes have been damaged severely if not irrepairably, and as you might imagine they are not wanting to return to them, which is a huge burden. But they are alive. A few friends I have not heard from, but phones and power are still down at times so I am keeping the faith. Life is precious my friend. Hug your beautiful extra hard tonight - for me. Kia kaha.

pohanginapete said...

Robb, your writing and photos here have been gifts to us, and if we begin to expect those insights they cease to be gifts. So please don't feel any obligation; take whatever time you need, knowing we'll be delighted if and when you return.

Best wishes for your journey, Robb. There's a wee something for you over on my blog.

Barbara Martin said...

Robb, an insightful post, but do not despair over what you think you do not given back to those mountains you love. It is the purpose og God to have such places for mankind to enjoy, to renew themselves. Those moutnains are a remnant of wilderness for mankind to enjoy and heal themselves if need be.

You are doing better in your life than you realize, and some inner answers will be forthcoming soon. On your next trip up, and it will occur no doubt sooner than you anticipate, ask for the Archangel Raphael's assistance in your hike up and through those wonderful mountains. I am confident you will be diviely guided in a manner you never thought possible.

For a visual renewal, pop over to my blog for more craggy vistas.

Mary said...

Ah, this makes me sad, Robb - but I understand so well what you're going through, maybe more than I can say here. I hope that your journey continues on the path towards wisdom and truth, and that it is filled with love. You've brought me so much in your writing and sharing of your love of Aotearoa and I look at your blog as a haven, somewhere to go that is sane and safe and lovely.

Change, though inevitable, can be wrenching and difficult. I tell myself every day that it's just a natural and beautiful part of living - but self-examination and finding one's place in the universe brings up so many doubts and there's a lot of second-guessing and plunging ahead, anyway, and wringing of one's hands when it doesn't work out. :-) Know that you are not alone, and that your bright gifts are amazing and divine. You give me hope in a way that I can't explain. You make me feel as if my feet are planted firmly on the ground. As you say about the wild places that still exist, just knowing that you are here in the world makes me smile and gives me optimism in the midst of a world that offers little, in that respect.

Robb, I will periodically come back and read some of your posts here, when I need a dose of reason and beauty. I'll take in your amazing photos and relish in this place that speaks of both quiet introspection and full-blown nature and all her attributes - passion, gentleness, frenzy, cruelty, and love. Thank you so much for letting us all get a glimpse of this. More than a glimpse, actually.

Here's to the Truth - may your life always be filled with it.



Anonymous said...

Greetings Robb. Sending thoughts of love and healing to New Zealand, and to you as you explore some time out to ask and answer questions on issues you need to address.
"Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take. You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack". Author unknown.
From my viewpoint Robb, a mountain is a mountain and a tack is a tack, and all the thought processes in the world won't make the emotional and physical weight to surface bum-to-tack ratio more comfortable. I guess it's what we use for cushioning and the quantity and quality thereof that makes tack-sitting bearable.
Be careful of the male stoicism of "I can do this, I can do this without any damn cushioning and using mountain wisdom".
You must know what I mean as you ponder the signposts.
Have you considered that in your need to seek sacredness in the mountains, sacredness instead seeks you and mercifully finds you receptive.
You will find your way. By your posts it is obvious to me that you are much loved by family, friends and Spirit, all working together to encourage the warmth and care you contain within yourself.You my friend, are not a taker. The only real thing you need to take however, is time to replenish your ability to give.Nature abhors a vacuum. It will be replenished, all to the good, but these things cannot be hurried can they!


Kia ora Robb,

After hearing the news, I wanted to see if you and your family was alright. Based on the thread above, I am glad to hear that personally you're OK, but those are sad overtures from your PM.

This post (hopefully not your last; I echo the others in saying your words/stories/images have been a refuge in many ways) is so full of transparency and honesty. It's beautiful -- and it hits home for me more than you can imagine.

We often have to wear so many hats as we move about our day-to-day. It can be difficult to wear them all in a balanced and supporting way. Who we are (or think we are or want to be) can be pushed and pulled by so many forces. It's just tough to balance it all out sometimes -- and see the true path through the proverbial fog.

You'll get there. There is so much energy being thrown your way -- tap into it, harness it, use it to drive this next chapter.

Be well, my friend. And don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything -- even from a few thousand miles away.


Mary said...

SO beautifully said, Pam.

Unknown said...

Hey Robb

It is your blog that has been a place of refuge for me man.



Joe McCarthy said...


I honor your quest for the Truth, and to be more of who you are.

I recently read an inspiring book - The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brene Brown - and wrote about the subtle but important distinctions she makes between fitting in vs. belonging, and the costs and benefits of conformity. She contrasts these in the following way:

"Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn't require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are. ... Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance."

One of the images - or sets of images - that came to mind in reading about this definition of belonging is the stories, poems and photos you have shared from your excursions into the Ruahines.

I'm confused when you write that "the balance is skewed and I have simply become a Taker, a User, an Appropriator, and I am giving nothing back to them". Based on numerous comments on your blog over time, I know that I am not alone in thinking that you are [also] an Appreciator, and have given a great deal back to the Ruahines in the form of a profound appreciation that has deeply affected me and others.

You write of "draining" the place, and yet I have never read anything about your experiences there that leads me to a similar judgment. In my judgment, most people do not have a place they can go that offers such a positive and deep source of renewal and re-engagement. Most of us tend to seek out surface level distractions and indulgences that offer respite without authentic renewal.

You write of your judgment that "there is something fundamentally wrong ... with me". Having recently read - and embraced - The Gifts of Imperfection, I believe that we are all imperfect ... and I'm becoming more willing to accept this human state of affairs.

You write of your intention to stay away - from this blog and/or the Ruahines - until you can "write with the complete feeling of honesty and truth I want to feel". I have encountered very few examples of writing that express the level of honesty and truth you regularly exhibit here. My embrace (or at least acceptance) of imperfection includes a similar willingness to live with incompleteness, and my wish for you is that you become more willing to accept imperfection and incompleteness in your own life, and to be gentle with yourself during what sounds like a period of intense questioning.

As I think I've mentioned here before, your experience of the Ruahines regularly reminds me of a quote from The Prelude to the book, The Dance, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practises
that offer us the warmth of encouragement we need to unfold?

I hope that you will not abandon the people and places and practices that offer you the warmth of encouragement you need to unfold. But I trust that whatever path you take will eventually lead you toward the Truth you seek ... and I look forward to the prospect of reconnecting with you if / when that path offers points of contact.

Anonymous said...


Ruahines said...

Kia ora,
I am so pleased to check in here and see so many people who care enough to stop in and wave. it means much to me. I am getting to a very cool place, at least an honest and open one. It is an interesting journey, and the world is certainly an interesting place at the moment.
Pete, cheers, will be in touch soon for that dinner!
Barbara, never fear I am still lurking in the background.
Mary, my kindred spirit, aroha to you and yours, and kia ora for your words. They are within me.
Pam, you are indeed a philosopher, and I am looking forward to sitting on a mountain soon!
Bill, I feel those thoughts, kia ora.
I miss your presence e hoa! Good to know you are out there, and I will be back soon enough. Loved your post on the Tararua rivers. Might have to join you one day there!
Joe, Beautiful and kia ora! Words to come back to and I will.
LC, Well written!

kylie said...

i just wanted to tell you a story that tickled me today:
my youngest mentioned to a maori kid at school that her grandmother is a new zealander. the kid wanted to know if we are maori or pakeha. caitlin didnt know so the next question was had she seen the movie "Boy"?
she has and so she was declared to be maori!

Alastair McDowell said...

Hi there,

I am from the Auckland University Tramping Club and I'm planning to lead a 5 day trip around the Ruahines this April.

Could you suggest any ideas for a challenging (med-hard) 5-day route through the northern Ruahines? I'm thinking about starting from either North Block Rd or Makaroro Rd preferably. If possible I'd like to include a bit of stream-bashing, off route navigation and walking along the tops. Though I'm not familiar with the Ruahines, so its hard to tell what areas will be like simply from the map.

If you had any suggestions, or knew some one else I could talk to who is very familiar with the Ruahines, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks very much,

Alastair McDowell

Snowbrush said...

Robb, I envy you a place that you so love.

I saw on Kylie's blog that you had had a hip replacement. I'm having my first shoulder replacement (and my third extensive shoulder surgery) this week, and while the recovery should be easier than the surgeries I've already had, I do dread it.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
That cracks me up! There is a documentary out there called This Way of Life, about a Maori family from Hawkes Bay. A very moving film, if you get a chance to see it do. Thanks for stopping in while I am "away". Be back soon. :)

Kia ora Alastair,
Sent you an email - good luck!

Kia ora Snowbrush,
Cheers for that. I am hoping to reconnect very soon. As soon as I can remain safe from the hunters now roaming about this time of year. It is a place I love very much and feel ready to return to. My best wishes for the surgery.
Kia kaha (Remain Strong)