Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I am not from this place. I came from elsewhere, drawn to some vague definition of "responsibility", but also an unexplained deep urge within that called to me. As a young boy my grandfather gave me a huge hard covered book of Life Magazine photos and snippets of the world from the 1950's. There was one photo that always stirred something within me, it was a photo of New Zealand, so beautiful and so calling. The place that photo was "taken" is not so very far from where I write these words. There was also a comfort in the photo and accompanying caption that this was a very English world, so they spoke, more or less, like me, and thought, more or less, like me. I was only 8.
When I came here, I discovered a place, in the above photo, that held true all the things I felt as a kid back in Green Bay, Wisconsin. But what has become also true, is that this is not my place. The land, the earth herself (Papatuanuku) has a hold on me and an ancient connection I am still struggling to understand, but the place, the original human inhabitants of this place, were not me, or of me. The mountains above which I love and honour were traversed and used by Maori, the original people, and most peaks, features, and rivers reflect that truth. It does not demean or lessen what I am finding in these mountains, the Ruahine, it only enhances us all. Why is that so difficult for so many people to acknowledge? So for me, a white immigrant to a far away land which I love, New Zealand has become Aotearoa.

"On the porch at Maropea Forks" - July 2002
The rain patters on the tin roof
drumming her song, the endless symphony
of the river joins the chorous
These echoes have called me often
So I Listen
to this ancient music once again
not lonely
Intensely fullfilled
The fear I have felt in my solitude is real
This is a Path filled with potentail woe
Yet here I am in the bosom
of this place
I am Home



Donald said...

Dear Robb

Profound writings my friend!

You may have to journey other realms or more ridges and valleys to fully understand, but know that what you've written over the years about the Ruahine has a lot of meaning for me.

Perhaps too. think on the course of your life, had you not followed your heart!

Thanks for sharing in such a thought provoking way - it makes me treasure my special places.



Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Robb!

The Ruahines are certainly your Turangawaewae. It is amazing how photos you saw in your edarly days have a big impact of where you end up in later life. Sorry to hear about the death of Tim. Sad.

The poem was good to.

KB said...

To some people, place and wilderness is not important. To you and I, it is paramount. Your post said it beautifully. I didn't "come home" to the mountains until I was in my twenties after growing up in a city-choked area of the east coast of the US. So, although our chosen homes are different, your post resonates with me.

Anonymous said...

The importance of place...none of it belongs to use, but we damn sure belong to it!

troutbirder said...

Well said, Robb. For me the place where I am is my contented home. I do think though, the Boundary Waters of Sigurd Olson, will always be that most special place....

baruk said...

i've struggled all my life with wanting to belong somewhere...*anywhere. it took the move to aotearoa nz, though, to begin to understand that i am a child of the sky-father and the earth-mother, and finally, that's all there is.

thanks for this post robb!

Robin Easton said...

Aw Robb, this is sooooo beautiful. The poem is exquisite!! All of it. I have had these same feelings when I stood in the rainforest of Australia, or stand in the desert or high mountains of New Mexico. I have often wondered, where (really) do my roots lay. And I have come to the conclusion that they lay where my heart feels at home, where my heart calls me to BE.

Then I often think how early humanity rose up out of Africa and made a vast nomadic journey all across the globe. So in essence we ALL are wanders, journeying into new places. And all along the way peoples have stopped their journey when they either felt at home, or there was rich food, or safety from predators (or later, enemies). But we all are of Earth, or one could even say we are of star dust, since Earth came from the stars, dust and gases, slowly fusing together to create Earth, water, life, ...and eventually us.

Boundaries, territories, have always been part of many species, including humans, but in some ways they are an illusion and have been taken to the extreme with modern humans.

Since I have traveled the world so much I have loved many places, but now I feel I have not yet found my "place". It is something we talk about a lot lately when considering our ten year plan. :) I have LOVED many places, and trust that I will know "my place" when I feel and see it. Wish my well on this quest my kindred friend. I could use the your good vibes. Thank you for being a profound inspiration in my life. I can't thank you enough. Aroha. Your Wild Sister, Rob.

vegetablej said...

What a very beautiful place to find a home. I absolutely love the last picture with the blue pool and golden grasses.

I have been re-discovering my early childhood home after wandering most of my life. There is indeed a sense of belonging to the land as much as all the wildflowers, berries, sea creatures and mists that surround me here. And there a sense of peace in finding home, isn't there?


Ruahines said...

Kia ora,
Thanks to each of you for reading and sharing and your thoughts. I wrote this post in response to a recent outcry over the comments made by a Maori academic, Margaret Mutu, in regards to the indigenous feelings around and about immmigration. Her points, in my view, were all valid and true, Maori are the First Nation peoples, their relationship and investment in the formation of, and continuation of, New Zealand is the cornerstone document of our country. To deny that there is racism and privilege to some and not others is to live with one's head buried in the sand - unless of course you are one of the privileged.
This got me to thinking about my own relationship with this place, but on a deeper level, the Ruahine. I can't explain why this particular place grabbed my soul, there are bigger, higher, more awe inspiring views and bigger faster rivers all around me. Yet my first steps into this one place released something within me, something I am still trying to get my head around. That this even happened to me is a miracle and a privilege, as some never find that sort of connection, or even bother looking for one. And that this has become my home or Turangawaewae in my heart is true and real. I also honour the reality and fact that Maori are the First nation people of this land, and somehow, again in a way I am murkily gazing, it makes my own connection more real.
Mauri ora!

Shanna said...

Thank god (or whoever) for people like you Rob, just when I thought the balance had tipped to hate I stumbled upon this. I'm so glad you have found your home in Aotearoa. We need you.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Shanna,
Cheers! We all really need each other, or something like that.