A Resident’s Perspective

by Di, July 2018

I arrived at Tui in October 2015 with my partner, to visit friends, on route to our life in Christchurch. That was nearly three years ago. For me, it’s also been part of an immigration story, for my partner, a returning to his Motherland. I have been passionately connected to building community within the urban contexts that had been my life over the past many years. I wasn’t seeking intentional community in a rural setting in New Zealand. Somehow, it called me.

I wrote this piece in the week that ex-tropical cyclone Gita hit the top of the North West part of the South Island in Feb 2018. It was also a powerfully stormy week on a human interaction and decision making level at Tui. I had dinner with a fellow Tui one evening that week, where the first lines you will read below were my parting words as we said goodnight. I was encouraged to go for it and write it all down, so I sat down at my laptop shortly after, writing this piece I called: “What the Tui Website should say”. I had no intention for it to actually land on the website. Several weeks later I read it at a community meeting because I wanted to be real and share where I was at. The laughter felt good. I include myself in what I have written; the people whom I live with here are my whanau. I love what I am learning. (written by Di, a Tui resident and prospective Trustee)


Kia ora Koutou,

Let’s get real from the start and say: There are no enlightened people here at the end of this road next to the Abel Tasman National Park. It helps everyone a great deal and especially any starry eyed visitors with impossible expectations, to know that things here are gritty and real and often really untidy. Save yourself and everyone else some pain and gnashing of teeth and explore and own up to any potential illusions you may have. Let’s include in that, illusions of illusions. Find them all; kick them in the bloody ass, right there in the parking lot.

Just to clarify, we don’t actually tick the box for New Age Hippies; thank Jesus, Mary, the Buddha and Nietzsche etc. Sometimes, it may look that way from what we wear, but really that’s just what living at the end of the road can do to your wardrobe. Things may look messy or run down on arrival, but you get over that, and yourself, and your bright ideas eventually, and you don’t even see things in the same way anymore after a few months.

Land Art by Bryan

Anyway, we’re much weirder than that … in a Dr Seuss-meets-a-Weka-before-breakfast –during-an-earthquake-kind-of-way. We’re strangely and genuinely not clearly definable, as we’re constantly discovering ourselves. ‘Living in community’, whatever that means, is somewhat like an amorphous moving time and space capsule with a big beating heart and at least 27 different hairy perspectives and dietary requirements. Life here moves and changes with the seasons and tides, while simultaneously giving the impression that nothing ever changes here at all.

On arrival, don’t even expect friendliness, let alone a warm welcome. You may get both in ways that flood your heart, but it’s best you don’t assume that that will be your entry. People are living their lives here; pretty much like people everywhere … it’s only toothpaste adverts where people smile all the time.

We don’t always greet or stop to chat … but that’s because in our daily lives, when it should take 10 minutes to walk from your house to the Tui shop to quickly get rice and your favourite spice … before you know it, 90 minutes are gone. This could be because: you bumped into someone whose heart was broken, who had just had a fall, who was looking for their ladder, whose car had broken down, whose visiting auntie is covered in spots and was diagnosed with a highly infectious gall bladder infection, whose visa got denied, who has just returned from a trip overseas, who is busy planning a trip, whose looking for a new job…who asks you how you are, and you start telling them even though all you meant to say was “I’m fine thanks”.

If it’s on a Tuesday you may find someone who is attempting to cook a community meal for 30 people, when anywhere between 15 and 40 people could arrive, with a matching range of different dietary needs, with one of the most recently declared as being intolerant of gluten-free. You may also, at short notice, find yourself suddenly and sweetly roped in to making a salad dressing.

When we are all together, our collective intelligence sometimes does not even equate one person’s individual intelligence. Other times, we’re blown away and filled with wonder at how magical it is to be part of this human tribe. Nah, let me rephrase some of that… there is never really a clear ‘We’. To quote a moment in the film, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, “We’re all different, we are all individuals”.

Community meetings can be a bit of a boot camp, they can take off a layer or two of skin and leave you shattered, bewildered, curious. For some, the Heart Share meetings can fill to overflowing and help you remember why it is you choose to live together with this bunch of crazies. For others, it would be preferable to sign up for dental treatment you don’t need or run howling into the bush, or simply go home and chop your wood pile.

For varying reasons, people here keep choosing to show up and work on what it means to steward land and attempt to relate with integrity with the current range of people living here. This doesn’t mean we all like each other all the time and live in sweet harmony. Dash that illusion sooner rather than later. You know the saying: ‘Wherever you go, there you are”. Well, Tui Community is a bunch of individuals who love the land and choose to learn what it means to be whanau. It’s just more intense and you can’t run away as easily.

As with anywhere else, some people you will like, respect, understand, and connect with more easily than others, and that can change from week to week. Somehow though, there is a lot of love. It can take some time to identify the love in all its varying forms. If you are open, you can and will learn from everyone. The funny thing of course, is every one of us thinks we are open ☺ And by the way, how the ‘showing up’ happens is in very different and unique ways, no 264 ways the McSame…

Land Art by Bryan

It’s beautiful here, like a paradise … but it’s not what you think it is, so get that straight before you bring any shiny faced hopes for this being the answer, please.

So, if its grit you want, and weekly meals where you’ll find  a lot of lentils, beans and rice, the biggest marrows you’ve seen in your life; and if you arrive early at those meals some salad, with occasional apple sauce and trimmings for dessert -you are welcome to join us. Just don’t eat the boiled eggs, they are only for children.

Oh and we’re likely to dash into the food queue before you, and some woman in the circle before the meal may whine on and on about washing, drying and packing away your own dishes. Never mind, we’ll sing a song … you probably won’t know the words, but it’s all a lovely learning curve.

Oh and in case I haven’t been clear enough, there is no WE, we don’t share a common vision, that’s so ‘last decade’. We’re a bunch of individuals trying to figure things out, and now and again on a good day, we really hear what others are saying … and not saying.

It’s an excellent place to exercise your skill in reading between the blurry lines and you may even sense, in some strange magical way, what gifts may be awaiting you here.

Be warned, as one resident wisely said to me, you get what you most need here … not necessarily what you want. Or it may be that you get what you asked for, just that it’s wrapped up in unrecognizable biodegradable packaging, like a dragonfly waiting to hatch from its cocoon after spending most of its life cycle floating in a stream.

Welcome to the Tui Community!