A story of connection by Lawrie McConachy


I would like to tell a short story:

It was sometime in the late 1980’s when I held the first and sole Nelson position of “Community Development person” with the Dept of Internal Affairs, Community Development, a major aspect of that role was to administer the Lottery Grants board funding across the top of the South Island, Westport to Kaikoura.
Following up on one particular application I drove south down the Motueka Valley Hwy, turned Westward in search of the Wangapeka River Rd, turned left into a driveway and kept driving up the hill until I ran out of road and then walked up a track to meet the people representing the Wangapeka Retreat Centre and writers of their application for funding to help with a building project. It’s a long time ago now but I still can recall some lasting impressions of being there, high up on the range looking way down to the valley floor below, noticing the amount of gorse surrounding the site, the beginnings of huts creating a wishful place of permanence and feeling the peace and solitude high up on the hillside.

I have lived in Queensland for the past 17 years; I turn 75 this year and at some point, I’ll return to NZ and live out my time in Golden Bay, I am looking forward now to also one day returning to visit your Centre. Yesterday I received a message from my daughter who lives in Golden Bay, telling me she would be out of contact for a time as she was attending a retreat starting on the 19th of this month at the Wangapeka Study and Retreat centre. This news awoke a distant memory in me of ‘Wangapeka,’ I had to Google it to find out more and I joyfully did and now here I am, full circle! What a wonderful journey it has and continues to be for me and for you, along with the expansive community who share in a myriad of ways in the Centre’s life, which I now know has flourished over the past thirty odd years.