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BONNIE WILLOW IN NEW ZEALAND: PART 9
A Report from Bonnie Willow
Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Reporting for NHNE
Mid March, 2004
Imagine the stark beauty of a towering oceanside cliff with a cave tunneling
straight through it, jutting out from white sand into clear turquoise sea.
The two Garys went on a kayaking trip in Cathedral Cove, in just such a
place. Although the dolphins didn't show up to accompany the kayaks, another
unexpected treat filled that void. While the kayakers rested on the sand
with mugs of latte, they got to listen to a music video being filmed inside
the cavern's arch. The singer was a 17-year old beauty named Hayley
Westenra, whose angelic voice echoed and soared like "chimes" as one Gary
said, in the hollow of the rock cathedral. The normally non-effusive men
both raved about the ethereal quality of her singing, and how it touched
their hearts. We later bought her CD, called "Pure". Her website is located
>. If you go to the "Media Center" of
her website <http://www.hayley-westenra.com/stream/index.htm
>, you can
actually view the video now! The song is a traditional Maori song called
Pokarekare Ana. The singing you hear was done within that cave, although
they added other scenes of her walking along Cathedral Cove. According to
her website, her music will debut in America on April 6.
Back at the rental house, our friend Julie formulated updated astrological
charts for each of us. She is a master astrologer and researcher. (She
doesn't have a website, but can do readings by phone or email. Contact me if
you want to contact her.) While her chart readings do cover the basic
home-career-relationship issues, she specializes in tracking the higher
purposes or missions in one's life. A fascinating development came to light:
Gary and I both have something called a "Pluto Transit" over the next two
years. Not many people have this in their chart, formed when Pluto's orbit
crosses one's ascendant. It causes absolute, utter transformation in
whatever area of that person's life is affected. The fact that both of us
have the same thing happening at the exact same time is a stunning
"coincidence". Or maybe not! At least we can be assured that we'll both
utterly transform in tandem. The process is clearly underway already in both
of our lives, as illustrated by our traveling across the globe looking for
Our gathering of healers was less structured than I expected, but the
connections we made in groups of twos and threes were deep. One of the
larger gatherings, at the beginning, featured a woman singing the
traditional Maori women's song of welcome in her sweet voice. Its haunting
beauty brought tears to my eyes. Then two adolescent boys, one Maori and one
white, performed the Maori Haka war dance, which is used as a welcome and
challenge to visitors. When performed by adult tattooed men, it is awesome
and terrifying. When performed by grinning boys, it is still powerful and
touching. I was glad to hear that Maori studies are on the increase in
schools. Another of the larger gatherings occurred when a local woman
demonstrated her version of Hawaiian Bodywork. We also gathered for some
guided meditations, for some prayer meditations, and to exchange holistic
healing techniques and ideas. I did many healings myself (a combination of
Reiki and Christa Healing and other methods) and was pleased to receive
excellent feedback. Then there was the night we all gathered for a party
under the full moon. Gary, Gary, and Miles spent hours on the deck with wine
and cameras, photographing the exquisite sight of a golden full moon and the
Southern Cross over the sea.
Some nights Miles fascinated us with stories of the history of the island,
backed up by his handy stack of reference books. First the Waitaha lived
here, then the Maori overtook them, then the whites arrived and took over.
As our friend Gary pointed out: "It's the human way. Conquerors will say 'We
discovered this place, and as soon as we kill all these people who already
live here, we can prove it!'" He does have a way with words.
The next day we planned to visit a nearby farm run by a permaculturist. Our
mate Gary opted to spend the day boogieboarding with J&J and Barbie the
Boogieboard instead. My Gary and I braved the left lane of the winding roads
by ourselves, in a borrowed car.
Outside a town called Whitianga (pronounced: fit-ee-angh-ah), where the
rolling forested hills meet the sea, Roger Harwood has been farming his 13
acres for decades. There was not a sound except cicadas in the breezy air
when we arrived. Sweet butterflies performed twirling duets in midair
between all the plants. Roger served us tea on his deck, while we gaped at
the tranquil landscape and breathed the earth-scented air. He disappeared
into his orchard, just beyond the grapevines, to pick fresh lemons for our
tea. His dogs followed his every step while he prepared our "cuppa".
Discussion of his application of Permaculture took up most of the day. It
was fascinating to realize that in New Zealand, the sunny windows face north
for passive solar heating. Cold winds come from the south here rather than
north. We really are on the opposite side of the world! When we watched the
full moon from our deck the night before, we had seen that the patterns on
the moon's surface were different from those visible in the northern
hemisphere. Complete reversals such as these can be mind-boggling.
Some of the plants he grew to replenish nutrients in the soil were familiar
to us, but others were not. Two edible plants were growing around the
perimeter of Roger's house because of their completely fireproof nature,
their drink making capability, and their benefit to the soil. They are
coffee trees called "Karamu" and "Taupeta".
Roger is dedicated to removing invasive foreign species of plants and
animals that are destroying the indigenous flora and fauna of New Zealand.
He spoke at length about the problems created by invasive animals. Imported
ferrets and dogs are decimating the wild kiwi population. It is expected
that kiwis will be completely extinct in twenty years, if nothing changes.
Twenty-three kiwi birds live on Roger's back acreage, thanks to his efforts
to keep out invaders, and the native rabbits are returning. Non-native
possums, magpies and weasels infest the island and cause great damage to
native bird populations, orchards and farms. Imported pine trees are having
similar effect on native forests. Roger and others like him are active in
reversing those trends.
Admiring the inside of Roger's hand-built home took a good while that
afternoon. Like his garden, it shows his dedication to recycling and giving
back to Nature. He made his own handsome furniture from fallen local trees.
He had hauled in some gargantuan stumps of ancient Kouri trees that had been
found in a swamp. Carbon-dating showed that they were knocked down by a
tidal wave 1300 years ago. His life and home contain endless stories of the
history of his beloved country. I could have spent a week happily listening
and taking notes. Some of his stories were a little more lightweight,
though. I loved hearing about the day his kids caught a 4 inch weta bug and
a centipede. They put the bugs in a jar together, and a vicious fight broke
out. His kids cheered on the ugly weta bug, but the centipede won, "in a
brutal annihilation", according to eyewitness reports.
Much as we would have loved to pack our bags and move onto Roger's farm with
him, we eventually had to leave. Our departure was brightened by discussion
of Gary's upcoming surfing lesson.
Though he spent his teenage years as a surfer boy in Hawaii, Gary hadn't
surfed in 30 years. He scheduled a surfing lesson from Tairua Surf School,
on the Coromandel Peninsula. (Their website <http://www.surftairua.co.nz/
is under construction, so try again later if it doesn't load yet.) His
instructor was Alison Smith, a young lady so gorgeous that everyone was
teasing Gary about spending the day with her. One friend who was with us is
not inclined towards women, but he proclaimed Ali to be so beautiful that he
briefly considered "switching teams". As an unbiased observer, I would like
to state that although those claims are true, her intelligence shines out
just as much, and she is a lovely person to spend time with. Her second job
is as a writer for the local newspaper. She took us to Pauanui Beach for the
day, and what a day it was! Perfect weather, amazing scenery, nice little
restaurants. We even took a ferry boat ride. I had a great time watching the
surfing lesson. Gary did quite well, didn't hurt himself, and loved every
second in the surf.
I have had so many unanticipated adventures here. What a world we live in!
It contains everything a mind could possibly imagine, and more that we
can't. These two weeks are unlike any other two weeks in my life.
Now I'm back at home, finishing up the last stories. Life shifted into high
gear the day after we arrived home, despite our best efforts. If you asked
me, though, I would swear to you that part of me is still walking in
I will try to wrap it all up and make sense of it, in my final report.
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