Te Ahumairangi Hill: Kaitiakitanga VS. Misguided Maintenance

Whānau, I want to tell you all a story;

Every week, my Bro from work and I journey up our local ‘maunga’ (“peak”), Te Ahumairangi Hill, with probably the coolest and most enlightened bunch of ‘tamariki’ (“kids”) you’ll ever meet.

They’re legit as fuck.  Especially when you consider they’re literally only three and four years old.

A couple of weeks ago, our little “kōhanga crew” started noticing the many council-contracted maintenance workers who were up there clearing the tracks for the upcoming spring-summer (*peak) walking season, and thus tending to the many slips and fallen debris our poor maunga has endured this winter.

Of course they had their machines and their tools with them, and our tamariki edged past these tentatively, rushing further up the track in an effort to return to the serenity and the silence of the place that we have all come to know with intimacy since our journey began in February of this year.

Bar the birdsong, obviously.  Kākā parrots are the main contributors, playful and ever-screeching as we ascend slowly to our special space, our very own “summit” away from the exposed, vehicle-friendly ‘Ridgeline Track’, and further back into the bird-friendly bushline – a deliberate effort to remain in the forest, and to therefore foster a deep(er) sense of connection with our Māori ‘kaitiaki o te ngahere’ (“celestial guardian of the forest and all forest creatures”), Tāne-mahuta.

One particular day – a moment from this most recent time period – is currently – powerfully – etched in my memory.

On our travels, we passed by a ‘mamaku’ (“fern”) that had had some precious adult branches “tended to” in an apparent effort to trim back some foliage from the track…

And, there was trauma seeping from every single wound.

So, our little group of adventurers stopped to assess and appraise the situation.  One of our ‘tikanga’ (“practices”) whenever we’re walking our maunga is to never, ever pick from ‘tipu’ (“plants”), but to always gather our ‘taonga’ (“treasure(s)”, or “thing(s) of value” (*relative to you/them)) from the track – the very bosom of our Earth Māmā, Papatūānuku.

And here, right in front of us, was our ‘why’.

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Mount Climie: Gallery Of A Welly Winter Wonderland

Mid-July 2017, and after a week or-so of hugging our heaters here in Welly, we’ve just emerged from the arse-end of yet another miserable winter polar precip – something of a regular/annual occurrence, these days (who’s the orange-tinged ninny that keeps insisting climate change isn’t real(?) – *ugh*, gummon yo).

What that means for tops of ranges like the iconic “Rimutakas” (*actually remutaka, orthographically-speaking, but that’s another story) here in our nation’s capital, is: snow.

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Walking To Wellness

Yesterday was a little like ripping off a band-aid – and not for the first time, either.

The ‘tinana’ (body) is a strange and funny thing, despite all its awesomeness.

And to be utterly fair, the key is in knowing your own one intimately enough to be aware of where yours is at – be that in some state of recovery (*currently me, in this second official month of winter here in NZ), or in your very best shape despite the odds, or the season.

Recently I chose to abandon all social media except Instagram, and damn if that wasn’t both personal and purposeful.  To be honest, I have been well over the negativity and crap that comes with Facebook for a while now, so the decision to finally say “fuck you” and leave was simply a matter of ‘when’, and not ‘if’.

I also did my absolute best to experiment with Snapchat (for the #EverestNoFilter campaign, solely), but once Ballinger et al. were done, I was too.

And, what I’ve since found is, there’s so so much to be gained in the way of wellness simply from being – becoming – less available.  Sure, some will struggle to wrap their mind around the many mental/emotional benefits of leaving the land of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ behind – in this day and age of the ego-driven selfie-groufie-groupie, the notion of others not being driven to the depths of self-loathing due to the/their “lack of” is confusing-af.

Life is, after all, a permanent popularity contest – right?

But: what if, in all that newly-discovered, unhindered stillness, lay the opportunity to do something – anything – on the daily, just for you?

And, not even from a place of ego – yeah, nah.  What I’m talking about comes from an angle of ‘aroha’ – of compassion, and empathy, kindness, self-acceptance, and of mindfulness, and turning those very things on yourself, unconditionally, no matter how tricky or strange that might feel at first.

Just, walking your own walk to wellness, eh.

For me, ripping off said band-aid is in fact one way of doing this; ultimately, hiking and (of course) connecting with Papatūānuku is how I manifest and live my existing relationships with both my māmās – my Earth Mother (who nurtures and sustains), and my Mum (now in spirit).

I love the route to Belmont Trig – even post-face-lift, which has clearly served to make the bush-walk portion more accessible to/for more of the surrounding community, be they ‘tamariki’ (children), dog owners, runners, or bush-lovers like me.

Belmont Trig (457 metres) – the highest point in Pōneke.

Despite now feeling slightly less “intrepid” in those initial phases (*starting at Oakleigh Street), the throat of Te Mana still feels sufficiently steep in others – I was certainly marvelling with my mate about our capacity to “deal to” mountains one minute, and then huff and puff our way up a hillside – this fucking hillside – on an entirely different day.

But, that’s real life.

To conclude on the whole “wellbeing” note: one thing that’s along this particular route in abundance is our native ‘kawakawa’ (pepper tree, Macropiper excelsum), whose leaves you can pick to make a tea-brew that’ll not only enhance your personal connection to/with Papatūānuku and ‘Tāne-mahuta’ (atua/deity of the forest and all forest creatures), but add some honey, ground ginger, and turmeric for a pretty bloody superb tummy tonic that’ll also rejuvenate, and energise:

  • Three kawakawa leaves;
  • Three servings/tips of ground ginger (MasterFoods’ shaker);
  • Quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric;
  • One teaspoon of mānuka honey.

‘Haere pai atu, hoki ora mai nei’ (or: Go gently, and return safe and well), always;


Mount Lowry: Measuring Nature-based Fitness & Environmental Success

So, whānau: where’s the one place you hike to, to measure your own fitness, and potential success?

‘Cos clearly, for ‘challenge’ and ‘aspiration’ to cohesively co-exist, you need yardsticks – otherwise, how do you even see that ever-lurking ledge-cum-tipping-point distinguishing “fine” from “fucking disaster”, and ultimately separate the two, when you’re in full-swing out there in the wilderness and absolutely need to?

Experience has shown me the value in having a particular route that provides personal, pertinent answers, so I can therefore assess rather than guess (thus avoiding the many levels and layers of “situational shit” that tend to accompany ignorance, arrogance, sheer carelessness, and (*or) selective stupidity.

For me, that’s Mount Lowry.

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Chasing Light (*Earthquakes(?), What Earthquakes?)

Something of a Saturday roam “sesh” — November 19, 2016.

Decided to brave Wellington’s prevailing earthquake aftershock routine, and pursue some nature-based “normality”.

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Love Your Backyard

Sunday fun-day feels at my local reserve — November 6, 2016.

Head to the tops of these hills for the most spectacular views of our little country’s “South Island”, ‘Te Waipounamu’.

She’s a long hard road to get there, though…

Still, those colours are pretty legit motivation — right?