KUMANU, MARCH/APRIL 2022 [download pdf]
Tēnā koutou, greetings to the Wangapeka sangha far and wide from your faithful Board members – Shelley, Tim, Cashy, Dan, Elli and Dave. We trust this Kumanu Report finds you well, and that you have support systems in place to help you manage at home around Covid19. The word ‘kumanu,’ as defined by the Māori dictionary, is a verb meaning ‘to tend carefully, foster, attend to, care for, cherish’. It is with this quality of attentiveness that we greet you through this monthly medium – in acknowledgement of the reciprocal care between the Wangapeka land itself, our ancestors past and present, plants and animals, Board members, elders, sangha, caretakers and all other members of our spiritual community. As we enter autumn and the beginning of the cooler season, it is our hope that you are well and cared for. We acknowledge the struggle that many people in communities are facing right now, from health to economic hardship. We offer a heartfelt wish that people can access the healing and help needed at this time. For those who find themselves well resourced, we welcome Dana at the Centre during these leaner months.
Covid is twisting and turning continuously for all of us and we have been working hard to keep up with the ever-changing public health situation. This mahi has taken a lot of energy and focus and we would like to acknowledge those who have supported the process – thank you for your patience, suggestions and co-operation.
After revising our Covid policy in early April, and a Covid outbreak at the Centre, we are now looking to revise this policy again as soon as possible and have a small group working on these practicalities.
You can read our new Covid Policy here and keep an eye on the website for updates. The key point to take from the new policy is that vaccination passes are no longer required to come to the Centre; instead, we ask people to show evidence of a negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on arrival. Please see other details about ‘getaway plans’ (previously called ‘isolation plan’) to understand further expectations. We are operating on a high trust model with this policy, and would like to acknowledge the extra work carried out by course managers and caretakers to manage relationships with retreatants through clear communication. As usual, we’d like to remind everyone to stay home and look after yourselves if you feel unwell. Please don’t come to the Centre if you have any Covid symptoms. We are committed to caring for the vulnerable members of our community and want to acknowledge this as we strive to make good decisions for the Centre.
Farewell Hadleigh and Malu
In other news, in April we farewelled our beloved caretakers, Hadleigh and Malu. The pair had been living at the Centre since February 2021 and did a wonderful job, bringing their unique skills, energy and initiatives to various projects. We would like to express deep gratitude on behalf of the sangha for their input over this last year, in particular their support of volunteers and community development efforts. Their openness to all people has been a real asset to the Centre. They have also been open to learning new skills and using them – thanks for seeking help, learning on the job and making informed suggestions for system upgrades. We wish them all the very best for this next chapter, as you return to Malu’s homeland (the Netherlands) for six months to work and connect with family. We will see them when you return in October.
Malu and Hadleigh were extremely busy over the last month, preparing to hand over and tying up loose ends – for instance installing a new water tank and fire hose. They were also working on the arduous but overdue process of transferring digital files from Dropbox to Google Drive, which should make life easier (eventually) for everyone.
We welcome Jacinta to her role as our Caretaker for the next six months. This is an ‘interim’ position for 6 months, combining land and admin caretaker roles. Jacinta arrived for the start of the Satipatthana Retreat with Bonni, and began her unique caretaking role on April 23. The support that this retreat and subsequent practice weeks has offered is a strong grounding for continuing a Dharma Community of Practice, and an experienced group of Sangha has been offering service to Jacinta to gain a sense of how the property runs. The Board are very appreciative of this early settling in time for Jacinta in what must feel like an enormous role, and wish her all the very best for the beginning of her journey on the beautiful Wangapeka whenua.
We are fortunate to have Dan and Amber as volunteer Administration Caretakers working together. Amber’s specialty is with retreat communications and finance, and Dan is responding to emails, following up on tasks and requests, and the communication aspect of the volunteer coordinator role. This arrangement reflects the challenging economic times we find ourselves in, where the Centre is losing money and can no longer afford to pay two caretakers. We bow in gratitude to Amber and Dan for their willingness to step in and support.
Earlier this year we called out for volunteers to come forward and take on jobs such as looking after huts and areas. Some of these spots have been filled, however there is ongoing need, and we are working to find ways to support the high workload periods such as preparing the Centre for retreats. We are exploring options, and it could be something retreatants may be prepared to offer, by arriving a day earlier to their retreat to offer assistance. Please contact the Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org if you can offer any assistance in this regard.
Increase in food costs
We regret to announce that due to the rising cost of food nationally, the food prices on retreat have gone up. The cost has risen by $3 per night, to match inflation. $2 of this covers the food eaten by an individual on retreat, the remaining $1 covers the cost of feeding others – volunteers, caretakers and teachers . This is a good moment to remind people of the sangha support fund, which is available to those without the means to pay full price to come on retreat. Details can be found here. We are working on a few fronts to investigate funding options to help see us through the year. If you have any leads on possible grants we could apply for, or other creative ideas, please contact Tim at email@example.com.
Board and Community Communications
We notice that communication with the Wangapeka community is vastly different than previous years as the current Board is scattered over quite a geographical area. This means some of us don’t connect so easefully to the Nelson Sangha groups who are active in supporting the Dharma and the Centre through natural neighbourly networks. There is a lack of informal “by the way….” opportunities to share the things that are before the Board, and also gathering informal feedback on how the Board’s decisions and resulting actions at the Wangapeka Centre are experienced.
Our Covid context also creates distance as many are cautious to make physical connections, and travel to the Centre is now a big consideration.
The Board is working with the Comms team to increase communication opportunities and will be making meeting minutes accessible to members. We are currently trialling fortnightly shorter meetings over May to increase responsiveness to often urgent decisions and keep our minds fresher, as 3 hour zoom meetings can be quite a marathon with one big decision after another. Zoom has become our meeting method through Covid until now. This has advantages and disadvantages. We are now reviewing this.
Trees that Count
Recently the Board considered an opportunity to plant 500 donated native trees as part of a ‘Trees that Count’ initiative. This project has some potential synergy with the wider Motueka Catchment Collective, Tiwaiwaka principles and the general aims for native tree regeneration on the property. After consulting others with experience and passion for this idea, it was decided to wait for another opportunity in the future, giving us time to consider what is needed for the whenua, and when resources and volunteers can be more easily organised. This was a positive beginning to a future vision.
Pause on Mike’s Workshop Conversion
With our finances trending downwards, work on Mike’s workshop conversion (volunteer accommodation) is being paused at the stage of the external work completed, and, with much of the internal materials already purchased and are safely stored. All this has come in on budget.Thanks everyone for all the efforts that have gone into this project which is about to be brought to completion.
The Board are very appreciative of Tarchin and Mary for ongoing generosity in their dana offering of books, “This Nectar of Naturalness” to the Centre. These will be available for purchase soon.
We are regularly heartened by all of the creative and generous offerings that come forward through the Dharma community and it seems always that a moment of misfortune is followed by one of good fortune, and so it goes on.
A core group of Wangapeka Sangha have been working on a proposal for a ‘Year of Service’ program in 2023. It has arisen from a process in a number of community hui, to explore the fundamental role of service in the path of liberation, and in response to the changing context of our times. This proposal has been shared with the Elders and Board so far and this will be a priority focus for discussion at our second meeting later in May.
As a team, our Board of Trustees have worked extremely well together over this changeable time, we have complimentary skills and our diversity has enriched our discussions. Dharma is the motivation and guide that weaves us together. Some of us will be stepping down from the Board at our AGM at the end of July. We want to signal this early to the community, so members have time to consider if this is something they could offer.
Please feel free to contact us at any time with suggestions / comments / concerns. We are:
Shelley Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Leyland, email@example.com
Cashy Yates, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elli Yates, email@example.com
Dan Burgess-Milne firstname.lastname@example.org
David Pooch, email@example.com
May the Wangapeka continue supporting all beings in awakening to Wisdom and Compassion through the cultivation of non-clinging awareness; fostering open-hearted inquiry into the profound interconnectedness of all manifestations of life; Encouraging healing of body, energy and mind for individuals and the community at large.