Kumanu February 2023

Tēnā koutou katoa, apologies for the slowing of regular Kumanu over these summer months. We have been meeting as usual, but my writing has not kept up as I’ve found myself swamped by life’s demands. However, here is a summer Kumanu for you, sent with much appreciation, particularly for those on the ground, both at the Wangapeka Centre and on Te Ika a Māui / North Island, where many are facing considerable upheaval due to extreme flooding. I would like to offer a moment of gratitude for those who are helping their communities by sharing resources and responding as best they can to the climatic challenges we face in Aotearoa.

What’s been happening:

Here in Te Wai Pounamu / South Island, we haven’t had cyclones to face, and work at the Centre has proceeded with gusto. It’s been a busy summer with many changes as work on the new volunteer accommodation block and teacher’s dwellings continue, and the accommodation block is now very close to completion. We’ve farewelled both Chris Petzold and Brandon Schwinn, whose innumerable contributions to life at the Centre have brought much benefit. Currently, Tracy Abbot is holding down the fort, with the support of volunteers. Brooke Walker, our wonderful remote office caretaker, was stuck in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland during the recent weather events, and is catching up now. As always, we appreciate sangha efforts to support our Caretakers, and welcome these contributions particularly now as we find ourselves thin on the ground.

Many thanks to Chris, who has departed from his position as Land Caretaker. Many acknowledgements to you for your dedicated work at the Centre over many years, your ongoing commitment to the Dharma and your stint as Land Caretaker. You have brought a wealth of experience and wisdom to the role. We wish you well with the next chapter.

We’re going to hold off advertising for a Land Caretaker right now, and instead look at the feasibility of moving to a single resident Caretaker model. The Caretaker’s role would then be more about co-ordinating the volunteers necessary to support the operation of the Centre. This can be seen as a step towards a Year of Service (YoS) – type model. In the meantime, acknowledgements again to those who have stepped up to support Tracy with her Caretaker duties. We feel excited about new possibilities emerging and will keep you posted. Equally, do let Tracy know if you feel moved to offer service at the Centre – there are many opportunities to support and weave with others at this time.

It’s been a long time coming – the Wangapeka has joined the NZ ETS – Emissions Trading Scheme. After many Board discussions and research over a period of one year, we have decided to register the forest on our land with the ETS. Our original motivation for this was fund raising, and we have had considerable discussions with this in mind, questioning our ethics. These discussions have led us to do research, and we now feel good about beginning the journey, in terms of being part of a movement to reduce carbon emissions nationally. We have resolved not to cash in any credits for the first 5 years, at which time the matter will be revisited (likely by new Board members), who will look again at the ethical dimensions of the decision before we take any cash.

What we are reckoning with:

Speaking of reducing carbon emissions, we are looking at more sustainable ways of people getting to and from the Centre. At the moment we are lucky to have certain volunteers who are willing to do airport pickups and dropoffs, but this is not always the case. We are adding a clause into Course Manager material about encouraging carpooling. Beyond this, we welcome any suggestions about how to lower our carbon footprint as a Centre. Our rural location comes with unique challenges, and until electric cars are more accessible, we need alternative and creative models to stop us from polluting the planet in order to attend retreats!

If you are interested in furthering these sorts of discussions, in conjunction with the work we have begun with Pā Ropata and Tiwaiwaka, please do let us know. There is a movement within our sangha to promote the health of the whenua, and there are many layers to explore here! If you would like to see more happening in terms of environmental policy / creativity / responsibility / solutions at the Wangapeka – let us know and let’s see if we can build more momentum with our pooled energy.

The 3-unit volunteer accommodation is almost ready for use, woohoo! For the moment, people using those units can use Mike’s caravan for cooking and ablutions, but that’s not a long-term option. We’re looking, first, at installing a pre-fab ablution block adjacent to the volunteer accommodation. Then we’ll look at providing kitchen and living space. Mike’s caravan will eventually be removed (a process that will entail some respectful ritual farewell, no doubt. Let us know if you have ideas …)

The Year of Service (YoS) is morphing and changing, and looks like it might be(gin) as a 3 month retreat later in 2023. If you’ve been watching / listening quietly from the sidelines and would like to express interest or find out more, please contact Simon or Dan.

What we need help with:

The Wangapeka’s 50th birthday approaches … we welcome ideas for how to honour it in style! There have been mentions of a book … a collection of essays / photographs / poems … a party … Please be in touch if you have an idea brewing that you’d like to share and need help developing.

Please keep checking the Community Forum, because…

  • The Board is reviewing ‘who pays what’ in terms of accommodation, food, and cook’s fee, because over the years it’s become unclear. We will make some adjusted documentation about this available on the community forum soon.
  • We want to encourage discussion about multi-facilitator courses (MFCs) – if and how the Centre should support them. Mark Schrader has prepared a very comprehensive paper on this and we’ll circulate it through the community forum soon.

People to contact:

Here is a list of the team at the moment. The best person to get in touch with for general inquiries or to respond to a call out from Kumanu is Tim, your faithful secretary. You can see the sub-committees and areas we are associated with in brackets next to each name.