Former Paekakariki and Te Ra teacher Ardis O’Connor writes from Chongqing, China, with his vision for a Green Kapiti.
Ardis says: ‘Ayear ago I was coming to the end of my biking odyssey from Athens to Stockholm.
Life in Chongqing
Now I am living and working in Chongqing, China…in the province next to Hubei (Wuhan).
But right now I’m visualising a cycling and walking Mecca in the hills above the Kapiti district.
‘Well, it’s the end of the 2025 and we’ve made it a long way at the Kapiti Coast Futures Committee here at the bottom of Aotearoa New Zealand’s North Island.
Thank you to all those who have submitted your ideas and visions for how to make this part of the world a place where our values can become our realities.
With the end of the Covid 19 lock down it was certainly time to re-shape our society into a society that we chose, not just using the old systems that we let ourselves slide into somehow.
Change was forced upon us. We certainly haven’t been passive in reshaping our world.
Thank you to all the good folks of the area for convening in neighbourhood envisioning sessions.
We now have community blueprints for 5, 10, 25, 50 100 and 500 years from now.
All the political parties have agreed to refer to these blueprints for communities that the people have set up, regardless of who is in political power.
If you have a good idea that you’d like to share, remember it’s not too late. There are people in your community who have access to plenty of funding to make all of our ideas into realities.
There has also been a 50% decrease in complaining linked to community empowerment. Together we can do pretty much anything.
Remember.. “It’s all made up… so we can make it what WE, the people, choose.”
‘Plastic bottle free’
We were the first district in NZ to go platic bottle free. The glass bottle recycling has worked a treat. The 10 cent deposit has recently increased to 15 cents.
Those local brewery bottles were just too beautiful a piece of art work to smash.
The old time deposits have also led to a decrease in roadside rubbish, allowing us once again to win the United Nations Model for a clean community award for the third year running! Wow, you tidy Kiwis!
Our planting of the trees has been absolutely remarkable. We are well ahead of our projected goal for tree planting.
We couldn’t have gotten there without all the neighbourhood tree nurseries and bee keeping. There are literally hundreds in the district.
Please note that you can already navigate to Waikanae and other larger towns by use of the larger tress that have been planted.
Groups of Kauri are planted at five kilometer intervals. These are considered “living museum pieces” and have been endorsed by the Save the Kauri Brigade.
Totara, being more endemic to the local area, are planted in larger groups, each of the groups being at two kilometres intervals from the town centres.
Camping and bivvy facilities
You’ll find camping and bivy facilities in beautiful glades in each of these areas.
Please feel free to accentuate the camping glades as you see fit. Local artists have created living sculpture gardens with “living wicker chairs” planted and thriving throughout the district.
Thank you to the roto tiller groups who have made community-space gardens so plentiful.
Food for free
Many in our community say that they are able to now live almost exclusively on the food that grows in community gardens and community orchards. Who knew that food is just such a gift from nature. How did we ever make it into such a business?
A big shout-out goes to the large group of teenage ambassadors who visited the area walking the new national trail from Gisbourne on their way to Wellington.
Kaumatuas and youth ambassadors
You’ll recall that our local historians and kaumatua gave live-feed history lectures each evening to the 100 youth ambassadors who have been walking the trails for their Know Aotearoa University degrees.
Over 5000 kiwi families have decided to “Walk the Trails” for over a month when the weather warms up a bit. We’re living the dream, folks!
The young people have also planted over 50,000 locally endemic trees in low lying areas near the pathways. The gorse is clearly in retreat. The lectures about local geography and history can be sourced at the National Library Website. This is an ever growing national taonga.
Dilapidated historical sites are being repaired before they are lost in time.
There are now three “pleached” villages that have taken root and are growing in the area. Quick growing trees are planted close and are grafted together allowing a living frame for a structure to stand.
This idea has been around for thousands of years and is now being tapped into for architecture.
The centre of these living, growing villages are the “tree cathedrals” that have been sponsored by various national forestry companies.
The showcase of these marvelous living cathedrals is now in full growth down on the riverbanks.
This has drawn international attention and is featured as Adventures in Living Architecture. Builders and foresters have been working together planting quick growing trees around the frames of the smaller “living houses.”
The Poplar tree houses are still selling fast, and growing fast, but nearly all the willow homes have been sold.
There are no more insurance issues as to whether these are actual homes or just a close knit, intertwining group of trees. The owners report that they never dreamed that living close to nature could be so peaceful and harmonious.
And if you want to add on another bedroom you plant a few more trees, tend them, and in a couple of years you have another room on the end of your living house.
Recycled plastics form the basis for flooring and windows and some owners have opted for a type of bubble to be inflated into the living spaces that dries within 24 hours but remains stretchy to allow the trees to grow unimpeded. This generally keeps out any creepy crawlies, if that matters to you.
These projects have been cited as creative ways to deal with the housing crisis and has allowed us to welcome a larger number of refugees. Remember the new US President’s motto.. “We’re all in this together.”
The Akatarawa Cycle network is still increasing. There are now over 200 kilometres of tracks and trails that crisscross the ranges. Remember that the three new lodges are only accessible by two wheeled vehicles.
A day’s visit and you’ll fall in love with the slower pace of life, the quiet of leaving behind the world of cars and the now thriving tourist industry up there in the local hills.
Please remember to use your GPS warning app and log in before using the trails in order to avoid collisions.
rush hours”. The Transmission Gully siddle trail is nearly as fast as the actual highway.
The new cycle-access-lodges also have cabins nearby. These cabins have mostly been used by the large number of overseas visitors to the area who report that they can get twice as much work done online when they are in the Kapiti mountain air.
These new eco-lodges are hosting another series of concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays throughout the summer months.
Four Masterton bands are recording another set of CDs at the Wainui Mountain Lodge on Friday. Similarly, if you are interested in representing the Kapiti Teen Musical Ambassador Group in the Waitakere Ranges in March, please get in contact.
The Four Kapiti Grunge groups have just returned from playing at the Nelson Ranges Hut series and at the Canterbury Foothills Music in the Huts Festivals. 17 of the musicians and 12 local artists were granted Arts in Action degrees through various NZ universities. What practical and useful learning.
The singer songwriter Pickle Pot concert recordings are now available. We’re already at volume four! Can you believe it? Radio New Zealand has sent us a letter of appreciation for the huge volume of local content recordings.
The Visionary Ethical Business Council of New Zealand has appreciated people’s ideas on how to restructure our economics from the the old “gatekeeper” mentality to a “money is a tool to help all of us live well” mentality.
If we’ve got the will to do something, then we’ll find a way.
Thank you also to the Media in Service to the People for helping with the programmes: How to Keep Bees and How to Plant Trees.. from Seed to Forest. ‘