Blood of the Flax by Ray Caird

Ray Caird is a long-time member of Wangapeka—around 35 years! Here he tells us his history with Wangapeka. Recently he has written a wonderful book: Blood of the Flax.

As a not for profit project, Ray has made a kind offer to donate $10 to Wangapeka, from every book sale made through our mailing list. See below for more details.

PLUS any profits from the book will be donated equally to the Wangapeka Educational Trust and the FMC Forest Trust.

Ray’s Wangapeka Connection Story and His Inspiration for Blood of the Flax

On a curious whim I knocked on a door.
It was up a rough road on a windswept hill.
It seemed a lonely treeless place.
There was only one building and a chook house.

I knocked again
A head popped out the door and whispered
“We are in retreat…”

That was the early 1980s. A year later I was back exploring meditation. Lindsay Reid was giving Namgyal Rinpoche’s latest Star Group teachings.

Chime and the original Canadian workers had gone but Mike Elliott soon arrived with his caravan at the bottom of the hill.

Over the following years there were many enjoyable times working with Mike Elliot and Norm Howarth. By default I became Trust Coordinator and Newsphere Editor. The three of us constituted half the Board, so consultation was easy. We just got on with it.

Mike, Norm and I worked a number of projects together including building Bellbird House (the caretaker’s residence) and converting an old shed into the “Lower Units 9, 10 and 11.

This inspired me to offer service as a Caretaker which led onto a new relationship, with Kore, who was also a caretaker at the time. At first we didn’t get on so well. I had a dog, Kore had two and there was tension. One night 2—3 months into our time as co-caretakers, we were sitting in front of the fire together, and something changed! Now 25 years on, we are still together.
In 2010 I organised the Wangapeka Caretakers reunion—a lively get together.

Wangapeka is my second home. It allows me to breathe. Most years I go on a personal retreat to Omahu Hut. I love the exposed rawness.

It is in that meditative place that I took photos for my book Blood of the Flax… It is my visual and poetic exploration of the most basic plant human relationship in the history of Aotearoa… including that of my own colonial flax milling ancestors

In Maori mythology, in the Harakeke lies the story of man. And such a cosmic place as the Wangapeka is easily embraced by Papatuanuku, the Earth mother and Rangi the Sky father.
The true weaver taps into the spiritual traditions of Whare Pora…the House of Weaving.
Weaving is not simply a matter of technique but of linking to the greater consciousness. Every kete tells a story.

The book has just been launched as part the Nelson Arts festival and will be available for Christmas. It features over 100 Photos but it is the ones taken at the Wangapeka (Including the early Dawn flax outside the Whare on the back Cover) that touch my heart the most.

Blood of the Flax: Christmas Wangapeka Offer & To Order

Toto O Te Harakeke explores the most important plant-human relationship in the history of Aotearoa. This beautiful illustrated coffee table book takes us on a poetic personal journey from ancient Gondwanaland to the fashion catwalks of New York. The result, with whanau boom and bust, is a playful and stunning celebration of the Harakeke.

Blood of the Flax for $40 plus postage. 

Ray will donate $10 from each book ordered from here, to the Wangapeka Educational Trust. 

The author’s edition features a Harakeke weave cover sleeve.

TO ORDER: email Ray, including your postal address, to:
Ray will then email you with the Bank account number for purchase.

Any profits from the book will be donated equally to the Wangapeka Educational Trust and the FMC Forest Trust. Thank you Ray!

Front Cover
Back Cover