It was during a holistic festival that a call was made to “live like this”; in community. Interested people formed a discussion group to thresh out ideas. During one of the meetings the challenge was put forward to “start walking the talk” and start living together, tomorrow! Thus the “Monday group” was formed and its members lived together in and around a rented house, in a rural setting -- exploring ways of sharing and caring, while looking for land to purchase. This group eventually grew to 10 ‘households’, most with small children.
Eventually land was found in Wainui Bay, Golden Bay - a 52 hectare farm bordering the Abel Tasman National Park. The land was purchased by the Tui Land Trust, and funds were raised by residents putting “into the hat” what they could afford and what “felt right”. This averaged out at about $7,000 per person. This was on a pure donation basis. A good 60% of the purchase price was raised in this way, and the rest was borrowed from the local bank as a 5 year mortgage.
In the deep of the night a caravan of house buses, house trucks and caravans drove over the Takaka Hill to arrive at first light at Wainui Bay. You can imagine the neighbouring farmer had a bit of a surprise when he saw them drive past, during his early milking session!
The Local Council was approached with an application for a multiple occupancy permit, using the provision in the Golden Bay County Council by-laws clause that provided for “commune status”. Permission was granted to live on the land with up to 60 permanent residents, build 15 houses and 5 sleepouts, and have a community centre.
The existing farmhouse had a substantial dining room added in order to function as the community centre. Here, shared meals were cooked daily, and a kindergarten and communal vege garden started. Slowly, houses were built and infrastructure was established.
In the I Ching, the trigram Tui
denotes the youngest daughter;
it is symbolised by the smiling lake,
and its attribute is joyousness.
Growing the Vision
After a good 15 years on the land, there was a growing dissatisfaction with the objectives of the Tui Land Trust. We were advised that it was easier to form a new trust, than to change the objectives. So we formed the Tui Spiritual and Educational Trust, with objectives that were more in line with the visions and aspirations of the residents and what was happening, and transferred the assets to it.