Once upon a time…
…nearly twenty years ago, a young law student named Tink sat in a boring law lecture. Or at least she found it boring, most likely there were others who found commerical law highly engaging, but Tink didn’t. Instead she sat sketching on a piece of A4 paper, trying to capture an image held in her mind’s eye of a series of buildings wrapped around a hillside overlooking the ocean. In her mind, or rather somewhere in her soul, the sense of this place was vivid, it seemed to call out across time and space but the details were indistinct.
For years the piece of paper sat folded up in a box of journals that Tink stored in her parents’ garage when she moved to Sydney. Sadly, her father tended towards shock-&-awe cleaning sessions so although she’d scrawled all over the box ‘Please do not throw out. Please do not throw out. Please do not throw out’, he threw it out. Yet while the piece of paper disappeared, the image in her mind did not. And occasionally it would surface again leaving Tink to wonder if the place existed, where, when.
Many years later, back in New Zealand, Tink found herself traveling on a weekly basis up and down the Kapiti Coast in the course of developing a project. At the time, she was living in a rented space and occasionally she turned her mind to putting down roots. The round trip would take her two and a half hours and without being entirely conscious of it, she began to pay attention – almost peripherally – to the landscape she drove through.
It didn’t take long for Tink to became aware of a stretch of land which seemed to sparkle in a way nowhere else did. Driving north between Waikanae and Otaki, through Peka Peka, the land rises surprisingly steeply away from the coast up into peaks covered in pine trees. For some reason she became increasingly drawn not just to the stretch of land but a particular road. It was as if there was an insistent little elf perched under the street sign on the edge of the highway beckoning to her. Eventually she relented and one day flicked on the indicator, drove across the railway lines and headed up Hadfield Rd.
Reaching the top, Tink wanted to turn right, but couldn’t – either direction led into private driveways – so she simply turned the car around, parked and instantly felt a kind of ‘voooooooomphhh’. A sweeping in and a landing. The sound a big bird makes when its wings fold in and it touches down. She sat there for minutes, looking down over rolling green paddocks, sand dunes, out onto the ocean, across to Kapiti Island and she thought ‘One day, one day, I would like to live here’. Yet having no idea how that would be, could be, possible.
Nearly three years later finds Tink living in her grandmother’s house. The family had kept in on while Mary, the matriarch, lived with advanced Alzheimers’ in residential care. The big old home was a a useful base for visiting relatives but when she died they all began to consider its fate and Tink began to consider her next move. Having never seriously looked at real estate before, late one night as the old wooden house shuddered in a Winterly gale she sat up in bed, idly googled realestate.co.nz and searched for Peka Peka. Somewhat to her surprise, the results included a place in Hadfield Rd. She sat with that for a while.
As Spring began to blossom, she searched again and found the place still on the market. This time she thought ‘Maybe, just maybe, I should go and have a look’ and as Spring became Summer, Tink drove up Hadfield Rd again, this time allowing the car to turn right at the top. At the end of the driveway, slowly drawing to a halt in front of the house, she found the location of the image she’d captured on a piece of paper in a commercial law class nearly twenty years before. A house on a piece of land which wraps around the hills of Peka Peka.
The late summer breeze rustled the scarlet petals of the bougainvillea as Tink moved in to the house on the hill accompanied by a puppy called Audrey, Andre & Claude the cats and a big vision. Melissa from the Powa Centre followed a week later. The two women had begun a dialogue about a shared vision for a well-being centre in central Wellington several months earlier and in the course of many conversations they’d become friends, soul-sistahs. And they began to realise that not only did they share a vision that related to ‘work’ but a much more holistic one relating to how they would like to live. A way of sharing resources, of enjoying the company of animals yet retaining the freedom to travel and of experiencing a much closer connection to Nature. Of building something.
Sitting in that lecture theatre all those years ago…
…I really couldn’t make sense of the image I tried to sketch. The structures seemed to incorporate more than one house and extended beyond the residential. Now, as I walk along the beach looking back up at the hills or through the paddocks below the house, that original image is coming into clearer and clearer focus. It is beginning to make a great deal more sense.
My vision for this space, in years to come, is to develop it into something akin to a tiny – very cool – village. A place which includes not only homes to others who want to live much more sustainably, but an innovation space, a retreat, a place to practice biomimicry, embodied practices, grow food, somewhere dots both big and small can be connected. A place of healing.
In my bones, I feel that this is a place for people to gather and out of the space in between us I know that more of the detail will emerge and become manifest. Monthly biomimcry meet-ups now take place here. We’ve already trialled a retreat. As of this morning, there is a very large piece of paper on the kitchen table with a basic outline of the land and some tentative sketches of what might emerge. So we shall see…
It is said that all good stories have a beginning, middle and end…
But ‘so we shall see…’ is not how this one ends. Quite the reverse. In my heart, I know this is the beginning of something wonderful and powerful. A book full of stories and not just mine. So please, come back and visit. If this story resonates with you in anyway, I would love to hear from you. And watch this space. I’ll continue to share how the image of structures wrapping their way around a Peka Peka hill moves from a piece of paper into a world of many more dimensions.