By Philip Saundres
Front and back cover pictures.
Starting and ending place of the journey, Paihia Holiday Park, Bay of Islands, Aotearoa New Zealand.
The season has changed.
The seat has moved
Seasons of life, impermanence.
Fr. Cyprian Consiglio OSB Cam for his encouragement to begin this journal.
For Kathy’s idea and inspiration to do this wonderful trip as I was not convinced at all, but she was right. And not in the least for accepting my ‘peculiar’ practices in a confined space. Kathy said it would bring us closer together, which I think was also correct as we encountered new places and experiences. Perhaps a little as in this description in the Ramayana…
Rama felt a great tenderness for his wife… Rama glanced at her whenever a beautiful object caught his eye. Every tint of the sky, every shape of a flower or bud, every elegant form of a creeper reminded him of some aspect or other of Sita’s person.
R.K. Narayan, The Ramayana, Vision Books India.
Eleanor Errante Camaldolese oblate in California, for her encouragement, helpful suggestions and patience editing my grammar. Above all for her commitment to give ‘birth’ to this project!
Jim Schuster, for his invaluable mātauranga (knowledge) and tīpuna (ancestral) relationship to Himemihi o te Ao Tawhito.
I am an oblate of the Camaldolese Benedictine community, affiliated to New Camaldoli Hermitage Big Sur, California, USA.
The journal was written with family, friends and the worldwide Camaldolese Benedictine community in mind, also with an awareness that most readers will be outside of Aotearoa New Zealand.
There is a glossary on page 55.
In my beginning is my end. … In my end is my beginning.
T S Eliot, Four Quartets.
William Bridges (1933 – February 17, 2013) was an American author, speaker, and organizational consultant. He emphasized the importance of understanding transitions as in the writing below.
Transition is the inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about…The starting point for dealing with transition is not the outcome but the endings that people have in leaving the old situation behind.
Transition starts with an ending. This is paradoxical but true. This first phase of transition begins when people identify what they are losing and learn how to manage these losses.
The second step of transition comes after letting go: the neutral zone. People go through an in-between time when the old is gone but the new isn’t fully operational. It is when the critical psychological realignments and repatternings take place. It is the very core of the transition process. This is the time between the old reality and sense of identity and the new one. People are creating new processes and learning what their new roles will be. They are in flux and may feel confusion and distress. The neutral zone is the seedbed for new beginnings.
Beginnings involve new understandings, values and attitudes. Beginnings are marked by a release of energy in a new direction – they are an expression of a fresh identity. Well-managed transitions allow people to establish new roles with an understanding of their purpose, the part they play, and how to contribute and participate most effectively. As a result, they feel reoriented and renewed. William Bridges Website http://www.wmbridges.com
My wife Kathy I had sold our home and we were waiting for the new one to be built.
We decided we would be ‘On the Road’ in transition with no fixed abode for up to six months, travelling and living in our old basic 17 foot caravan – ‘Marion’ named after Kathy’s mother. The caravan is nice but basic, not an apartment on wheels.
Fr. Cyprian Consiglio suggested I write about this period. This document is a collection of stories about maintaining and adapting the daily observances that were previously possible in a relatively ordered stable environment, and observations of life and random matters that I was drawn to.
My Sunday church worship tends to be Anglican within the Māori tradition but I am ‘sans frontiers’.
This time of change has been one of gradual learning and times of acceptance maintaining the daily practices. Sometimes it has just been awful. Those times are just as valuable if not more so.
Most days worked out fine, but others had challenges. I came to accept that campgrounds and holiday parks are not always the tranquil rural wildernesses as sometimes portrayed, but much more in line with the Robin Williams movie RV, one of my favourites, recalled many times on this journey.
This journey has taken place in the time of the Coronavirus pandemic. In Aotearoa New Zealand we have been able to travel freely whilst most of the rest of the world has been in chaos. We are very grateful.
A Prayer for Going Forth
Take me where you want me to go,
Let me meet who you want me to meet,
Tell me what you want me to say,
and keep me out of your way.
Fr. Mychal Judge O.F.M. died 9/11 Victim 0001.
The Neutral Zone
The ending brought with it the challenge of us moving into a small space for a period; this seemed daunting after living in our large property. Adjustment to the physical space happened fairly quickly. After a while it became humbling as we realised we were doing this out of choice and adventure.
We met those on the road who did not have a choice. This was the only way they could have somewhere to live, they had to keep moving on. Then there were those who were working hard but could not get enough together for a house deposit. And those who had found themselves in unexpected loss of work, in financial difficulty, but with enough funds to buy a van for their permanent home.
The one who turned up in the most enormous new RV built to the highest standard in Germany was the owner diagnosed with a terminal illness who sold a house to live this life while he could.
There are those who would consider our accommodation more than they could hope for. The ones who would quietly come into the campsite to get a hot shower or even out of desperation steal camper’s food from the communal kitchen.
Moving on was sometimes met with hesitancy. The site would be pleasant and comfortable, we had begun to know the people, and then it was time to move on. Our plan was never to stay anywhere for long but to keep on experiencing other places.
President Tarja Halonen [of Finland] is
sitting at the bottom of the stairs in
the street and leaning against a wall,
which is smudged with spray-paint.
Her face looks sad, serious, and she’s
staring into the emptiness. Her
clothes look dirty. The two bags next
to her seem to carry all her
With the picture, taken for an ad campaign for the Finnish Salvation Army, Halonen wants to remind us that ‘bad luck can befall anyone’. This is also the theme for the Salvation
Army’s campaign and collection, which aims to remind us that anyone’s
luck can turn around due to a number of reasons. An accident, sickness,
unemployment, assault, a sudden death of a relative – these are all reasons
that could spark a chain reaction that destroys one’s whole life.
‘It’s important to help a fellow human being in need. This is humanitarian
work in our daily lives,’ Halonen said in a bulletin.
Sitting in the cell can be hard: here there is no escaping oneself, the self. The temptation is to get up and wander, find something more interesting to do, find someone to talk to. This is why Romuald so firmly commands us to sit. What he really means is ‘stay put.’ Don’t leave because you are bored or disturbed by the negative thoughts that come into your mind when you are alone. In fact, let go of all your worries, anxieties, and responsibilities and learn to be content with the quiet, simple space where you are. Praying as well as reading and reciting the psalms become part of the cell experience, occupying the mind and offering comfort.
Compline has not been a regular practice for me. I would pray this occasionally and particularly when I have not been able to pray Vespers. My regular night practice is a gratitude one. However, as the journey has progressed I have been praying Compline every night. I think this may be because of the irregularities of the days; it has become a welcoming pillow on which to lay my head. Sometimes I use a recording from Worth Abbey in England but mainly praying Compline from the New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (Anglican Prayer Book).
So we are taken over the threshold from daytime, not in a mood of self-centred spirituality, but as representatives of humanity, acknowledging our creaturehood before God. – NZPB
The Anglican setting is linked to the Benedictine compline by history but with Aotearoa New Zealand influence plus Māori text and imagery.
Keep me, O God, as the apple of an eye;
Ko koe hei tōtara whakamarumaru mōku;
hide me under the shadow of your wings.
huna ahau ki raro i ōu parirau.
The first line is not a translation but says You (God) are a tōtara (a strong Aotearoa New Zealand tree) a shelter shade, protection for me.
This phrase has its origins in Māori proverbs. The tōtara tree is used specifically. A highly regarded person can be referred to as a tōtara. In addition tōtara is used for building waka (canoes) and for carving which entails spiritual understandings.
This compline also allows for an alternative Lord’s Prayer written by a New Zealander Jim Cotter. The prayer is below, but the prayer book changed the first line removing ‘Love-maker’. I far prefer the original; even the 2020 updated version of the prayer book still includes this alteration.
But God as Love-maker was obviously a step too far for puritanical Kiwis. Rev. Bosco Peters at liturgy.co.nz
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, (Love-maker)
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples
of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.
A contemplative video presentation of this prayer called Eternal Spirit is chanted by Ana Hernandez and Sr. Helena Marie CHS. It is posted by the Episcopal diocese of California on Vimeo.
Ana Hernandez is an arranger and has written a book The Sacred Art of Chant
Sister Helena Marie has been developing and leading plainsong with her sisters at the Community of the Holy Spirit, Bluestone Farm in Brewster, NY since 1982.
Lord, It is Night
This photo was taken whilst at a holiday park. It is of a ‘blood moon’ eclipse. The full moon moves into the shadow of the Earth cast by the sun, and is momentarily darkened. Some sunlight reaches the moon, refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere, illuminating it with a dark red glow.
The prayer below is from the NZPB Night Prayer liturgy.
Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.
The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives
rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
In your name we pray. Amen.
This week I was again asked about the history of the prayer, and I saw some incorrect stories circulating.
Rev. John Williamson was the secretary of the Provincial Commission on Prayer Book Revision when it concluded its work in 1987. He has since died. He was a humble, talented priest, serving the commission and the church. The commission had been meeting for its very last meeting to prepare to send the text off for its debate at General Synod. They asked John to lead the final time of prayer together.
He wrote the above prayer and used it at that service. Read the prayer again, and you can hear echoes of how the commission felt after its years of intense work. After the time of prayer one of the commission members said it should go into the Prayer Book. The others agreed, and the prayer had to be retrieved from the waste paper basket where John, humble as ever, had tossed it after leading that office. Rev. Bosco Peters at liturgy.co.nz
It is ANZAC weekend and we have returned to home territory as I am leading the service on that day. Friends kindly asked us to stay with them. They are very faithful conservative, literal Christians; we have interesting conversations at times with my liberal and mystical tendencies.
The wife keeps bees. So we have a monastic connection! She talked with me about bees and shalom. How she speaks in tongues softly and sits with the bees. She is a jazz musician and says the buzz of the bees then matches the pitch of her voice and the bees become calm.
One evening I was on the porch and had just started to meditate when she came wearing her beekeepers suit, bringing with her lumps of bee’s wax and accompanying bees to show my wife and me. She is aware of my practice but did not realise I had begun to meditate. She was being kind so I recalled the Desert Fathers:
A brother came to a hermit: and as he was taking his leave, he said, ‘Forgive me, Abba, for preventing you from keeping your rule.’ The hermit answered, ‘My rule is to welcome you with hospitality, and to send you on your way in peace’.
We appreciated her kindness and care for us and the bees, I returned to my meditation. As I started to meditate again I thought I needed a photo of her for this story but returned to the present and stayed put in my cell. I took a photo of her bee hives later.
One evening I was joined by ducks for meditation. Good feelings of the wonder of our world, seeing God in the beauty of creation. However I don’t think the ducks were looking for spiritual sustenance, but sustenance of a different sort. There was interaction, a peck on my toe, wanting attention, none of that sitting still!
Sometimes I don’t feel hospitable at the camp grounds when I am meditating… people going by say hello, not realising. One day someone said ‘enjoy your peace sir’; I don’t know who, perhaps a passing angel.
Caring IS the Practice
My wife Kathy is wheat intolerant; we stopped at a cafe for lunch which provided gluten free and keto diet food. Kathy reacted badly to something in the food. Within the hour she had become very ill. She fell asleep in the caravan as it came time to pray the office and meditate. Not long after beginning the meditation period Kathy became restless and in pain, so I turned off the timer and gave her consolation.
I recalled some time ago in Australia when Kathy was seriously ill in hospital, I was at her bedside and unable to pray a formal office. An oblate friend who had nursed her terminally ill husband had said to me ‘caring is the practice’. That phrase has been with me ever since, it’s written in my daily reflection book.
It is necessary to sit in zazen, in this way, but sitting is not our only way. Whatever you do, it should be an expression of the same deep activity, we should appreciate what we are doing. There is no preparation for something else.
Breakfast for Two?
One miserable wet weather morning, Kathy had gone to do chores, I had been meditating for a while in the caravan when she came back and started to prepare breakfast. When she sat to begin her breakfast I had been meditating for over 20 minutes, so I turned the timer off and joined her. It seemed the right thing to do, rather than let her sit alone.
Solitude Stillness Silence
I have been able to obtain a level of internal silence and certainly stillness in our travels but solitude is something else. A sense of solitude can be found on some beaches and walks but what I realised was that solitude in the sense of a cell ‘sit in your cell as in paradise, put the whole world behind you and forget it’ particularly for lectio divina was not as easy to find. That is until we were at Orewa Beach Holiday Park for the third time. The place was much less busy, the weather had changed moving towards winter and the children were back at school. The television room is at the centre of the park and it seemed as if no one was now using it. The room is decorated with nature themes.
It became my cell morning and evening whilst at Orewa…starting my routine in the morning as when living in our home, rolling out my exercise mat for my body work before beginning the daily office and meditation. It just seemed so good to have found a cell again!
Solitude is not found so much by looking outside the boundaries of your dwelling, as by staying within… It is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present, you will never find it.
…life is not simply time that passes; life is a time for interactions.
The first night we began the journey was at Paihia Holiday Park, only about 30 minutes from the home we had left. We travelled just a short distance being weary from the house move and we still had matters to clear up with regard to the house sale.
Early the next morning Kathy and I went to the town of Kerikeri to finalise documents. As we arrived our mobile phones and those around us started loudly ringing. It was a warning announcement for a potential tsunami. We were at that moment safely inland but our caravan, our home for the next six months and all we have to live with – clothes, bedding – were right beside the sea. First it was a sense of not knowing what to do! I went to the fire station and they put it very succinctly to me ‘It’s your life or the caravan’. We could not get back as the route had been evacuated. We just decided to carry on the day as normal, as best we could in the here and now. This was not helped by my gym buddies who I had met up with for lunch. They were painting mental pictures of my guitar case floating down the bay with a cormorant sitting on top.
Many friends contacted us to see if we were safe and offered us accommodation if needed. We were grateful and comforted.
‘All was well’, we were able to return to the caravan mid-afternoon, and were relieved to see nothing had floated away!
Aotearoa New Zealand
Anglican Prayer Book Artwork
The Woven Flax Cross
Te Ripeka Whiringa Harakeke
I am told that in some Māori circles, the art of weaving is a symbol of the way in which the most fundamental life forms are knit together, evolve and grow. For example, when one flax strand is held in the hand ready to be criss-crossed with another flax strand, the weaver says to herself ‘aroha atu’, meaning ‘the love that goes forth’. When the second flax strand is held in the other hand and placed across the first strand, the weaver says to herself ‘aroha mai’, meaning ‘the love that comes back’. The spirituality being described here is that as love is sent out, so it returns to the sender: love given and love received are the full meaning of love itself; love always builds up. New life shapes and life forms emerge in the dynamic of love given and love received.
So, the emerging kete, or woven flax bag, that is created by way of the interweaving of flax strands becomes a living sign of the way love creates. The creation of the bag itself means that it becomes useful for carrying and sharing food and other treasures between a community of people. The kete exists to serve a common good and becomes a practical and domestic sign of the way love serves, which is, of course, the very nature of God and the greatest of all things. It was the spirituality implicit in this kind of image that led to the logo of our church here in the South Pacific.
The artist, Ross Hemara, was asked by the Anglican Church to design an indigenous cross, picking up strands from all three Tikanga [customs: Māori, Pacifica, non-Māori] of the church in these islands. The woven flax cross, Te ripeka whiringa harakeke, was chosen as the first work of art in our prayer book and has become a sign of being Anglican in these islands. At the centre of the woven cross pattern is the koru [unfurling fern] , a sign of life. The koru is presented in red, a sign of life blood, of the life giving love which flows through the heart of the Christian message and Christian mission. The design presents the flax strands moving outwards, symbolising the life patterns of the Gospel being formed in a new creation.
Reptile from the Deep
I had started my usual evening practice of Word Into Silence, as far as the opening hymn when an RV pulled up beside me. The Chinese couple with the RV jumped out and excitedly started on their chores, talking very loudly. I said to myself ‘Why do the Chinese have to talk so loud?!’ Then I realised my reptilian racist mind had made its way to the surface. As it happens the next section in the liturgy is a reading from Fr. Cyprian’s Universal Wisdom collection, so I made sure I found a Chinese Tao reading and contemplated on this before continuing. Politicians can manipulate this dark side below the surface; I believe it is from our very early time when humans lived in small tribal communities and so a stranger could also be a potential danger.
I live in a multicultural country and am deeply involved in the Māori world but this still happened to me.
Following up on this thought I came across this writing:
White people raised in Western society are conditioned into a white supremacist worldview because it is the bedrock of our society and its institutions. …The messages circulate 24-7 and have little or nothing to do with intentions, awareness, or agreement. Entering the conversation with this understanding is freeing because it allows us to focus on how–rather than if–our racism is manifest. When we move beyond the
good/bad binary, we can become eager to identify our racist patterns because interrupting those patterns becomes more important than managing how we think we look to others. I repeat: stopping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others that we don’t have them.
Paradoxically, we have certain ancestral fears that technological development has not succeeded in eliminating; indeed, those fears have been able to hide and spread behind new technologies. Today too,
outside the ancient town walls lies the abyss, the territory of the unknown, the wilderness. Whatever comes from there cannot be trusted, for it is unknown, unfamiliar, not part of the village. It is the territory of the ‘barbarian’, from whom we must defend ourselves at all costs. As a result, new walls are erected for self-preservation, the outside world ceases to exist and leaves only ‘my’ world, to the point that others, no longer considered human beings possessed of an inalienable dignity, become only ‘them’. Once more, we encounter the temptation to build a culture of walls, to raise walls, walls in the heart, walls on the land, in order to prevent this encounter with other cultures, with other people. And those who raise walls will end up as slaves within the very walls they have built. They are left without horizons, for they lack this interchange with others.
We are in Whangarei where Camaldolese Oblate Michael Dougherty lives. We went to Mass together. Following Mass I was privileged to go with Michael to a Christian Meditation group he coordinates – CM as 11th Step Practice.
Here is the Mission Statement:
Addiction & Recovery outreach shares an ancient path of contemplative prayer as a way to practice the 11th step. We are not a replacement for nor are we affiliated with any 12-step program. All are welcome, faith or none, 12 step or not.
Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
The member who led the group this Sunday chose a reading from Bernard of Clairvaux:
Wherever…thou shalt be, pray secretly within thyself. If thou shalt be far from a house of prayer, give not thyself trouble to seek for one, for thou thyself art a sanctuary designed for prayer. If thou shalt be in bed, or in any other place, pray there; thy temple is there.
This struck me as relevant to Kathy’s and my present itinerant situation.
In the centre of the room is a small table with a talking stick and the practice for our meeting written out. When we finished meditating we were able to share thoughts whilst holding the talking stick.
Mary and Martha
Kathy and I seem to fall by default into pastoral care where we live. People just seem to want to share their difficulties with us. It is a blessing for us but can be tiring. Travelling we did not expect this role to follow us but it has. When we have been staying in places where there are people who know us we have been able to help and even had people phoning or messaging from afar. I even had a holiday park manager tearful about a difficult family situation.
Kathy is a very practical person and sees the problem in direct terms, while I am a bit slower and less perspicacious, but can see some deeper aspects. I think we make a good pair.
We are pilgrims on a journey, We are travellers on the road, We are here to help each other, Walk the mile and bear the load.
I Am Weary Let Me Rest
This is the title of a song that was sung by legendary bluegrass singer Ralph Stanley and others. His voice, the plaintive feel of the song came to me today. It is the sound of the early folk music of the United States with people struggling in the back woods, expressing their life and faith. I believe it is referred to as ‘The High Lonesome Sound’.
This day I am truly weary. We moved places. The night before had been extremely wet, with rain and the strong winds buffeting the caravan so that we did not sleep well. In the morning we also had a maintenance issue to deal with on the caravan. We were fortunate to pack up without rain but the ground was soft and wet; it was trying.
The scripture and children’s song comes to mind – The Wise Man Built His House Upon The Rock … and the rains came tumbling down!
We drove to the next place and set everything up again. An old caravan has much more to set up than an RV.
Later we met up with a friend and his wife who said I looked tired and I realised he was right. We were also at a stage where we had to return to our home territory to deal with difficult matters involving other people and ourselves. So the adventure part of the journey was on hold for the next few days until these matters were resolved, until we could begin again. This added to mental tiredness. Kathy said – ‘I cannot wait for this week to be over!’
I reflected again on those in the world who have no choice but to keep moving on, dealing with keeping going and how weary they must become. Then without energy having to deal with authorities
We had a very early dinner with our friends. In the evening when we returned, in the next door caravan, there were a couple of men drinking, using colourful language and playing loud music. When we laid our heads down we thought it would be difficult but we both dropped straight off to a very restful night.
Another song I reflected on was one I had written. My friend Romuald, a Marist Brother had written a book The Beauty Beyond. From the book I had chosen words adapted from Isaiah –
In returning and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust will be your strength. For the lord is waiting to be gracious to you, blessed are those who wait for the Lord.
I often use this song with a Christian meditation group.
In the morning my friend picked me up and we went to Mass. After taking communion in bread only, I went back to my seat and was aware that my mouth was full of sweetness as if I had been sucking on a sugar cube. I didn’t know what to make of this, perhaps the Lord is waiting to be gracious to you…
Grant my spirit ever by thy life may live, to my taste thy sweetness never failing give.
Zen Buddhist Bowl
When near Auckland I visited my friend Milton whom I had not seen for 52 years. We were in a blues band together. We discussed life, music, and spirituality. He told me a Zen story. Years ago he was reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, when he dropped the book into the toilet bowl, fortunately, after he had flushed. He felt the whole process of rescuing the book from the toilet and drying it out a ‘Zen experience’. Contemplating this story I found can be enlightening. The Dalai Lama is often photographed being playful so it is ok to do that with this story, toilet humour allowed!
A man walks upright, and the food in his body is shut in as if in a well-made purse. When the time of his necessity comes, the purse is opened and then shut again, in most seemly fashion. And it is God who does this, as it is shown when he says that he comes down to us in our humblest needs. For he does not despise what he has made.
We visited the Sculptureum at Matakana, north of Auckland. This is a wonderful collection of art from antiquity to modern. What particularly resonated with me was a Tribute to Steve Job, the co-founder of Apple including sign boards with some of his sayings. I was aware he meditated but this really came through to me. I have never read his biography but will try and find this on our travels as it is sometimes in the charity shops. A book I packed for the journey is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki. This was a book that influenced Steve Jobs.
A Brief History of Time
We decided on our travels whilst in the caravan, there would be no television, radio or online streaming of movies.
Reading was given much greater space.
I was dipping occasionally into Stephen Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time trying my best to comprehend.
One evening I was reading William Dalrymple’s book The City of Djinns about the city of Delhi, India. The chapter was about a legend from the Sufi tradition, which ultimately traced its source back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest notable written literature.
I then changed books to Adam Ford’s The Art of Mindful Walking. The chapter was on night walking, gazing at the stars, distances which seem beyond our comprehension. In this chapter Adam Ford wrote about a walk he had with David Scott an Astronaut who had walked on the moon, had seen the earth from space.
I went outside and looked at the stars, using an app on my phone to understand which stars I was seeing.
At this moment, the three books came together as one, the stars light years away, the writing of an Epic many millennia ago, and then for all of us how little time we are here.
Crossing the Bridge
This bridge in Whangārei is a clever design based on the shape of a Māori waka taua (war canoe). The prow acts as a counter balance to help lift the bridge with minimum hydraulic pressure. The historic painting below shows the waka taua shape.
I believe that knowledge of a culture’s language is an aid to understanding a culture as often words have stories behind their construction that relate to the culture. I also believe it is respectful if living in or alongside another culture to have a grasp of the language even if just a few words of greeting.
The Māori language te reo Māori, is an official language of our country along with sign language and English. This was not always so. In living memory Māori children were beaten by their teachers for speaking the language. This left generations unable to speak their language and consequently carrying a sense of embarrassment and devaluation.
Today there has been a major revival of the Māori language in schools, organisations and business. The main news and weather on English language radio and television is gradually including more te reo Māori phrases as common use. In addition there are two dedicated television channels and numerous radio stations. There is also a Māori Language Week each year.
Recently one of our politicians, the Deputy Prime Minister Kelvin Davis who is of Māori and European descent, challenged non-Māori New Zealanders to ‘Cross the bridge’. He was not talking about the language specifically but more about society. He said Māori have crossed the bridge to European understandings; it is time now long past time for non-Māori to cross the other way as well.
This photo is of Te Atawhai and me at a holiday park. Te Atawhai is a Māori mother with two children. They speak in te reo Māori all the time. Atawhai means to show kindness
Ken is in the caravan next to me and is likely over 50 years of age. He is a teacher. In his school a few years back no one spoke te reo Māori so he decided he should. He learned totally from a book so his pronunciation was all out, but a female Māori elder (Kuia) said she was going to live with his family for a few weeks and immerse them in the language.
Te Atawhai and her children are in the camp ground kitchen this evening when Ken and I arrive. We all spoke together in te reo Māori only. Te Atawhai was so excited for her children to see and experience this surprise talking with two older Pākehā (non-Māori) in our indigenous language.
Maybe we need to help others to cross the bridge.
Within a few days of being with Te Atawhai an incident occurred which was reported in the news:
… But the reactions of some to any Māori [language] interspersed in our news bulletins is positively blood-curdling. They’re furious at hearing a smattering of an official language. A language that has been heard on these shores for hundreds of years. An official language since 1987.
It’s a completely out-of-proportion fury which I think exposes a deeper animosity towards Māori.
It reached its crescendo at last week’s meeting of the newly formed Tauranga Ratepayers Alliance. An attendee stood and launched into a standard Māori greeting and was met instantly by jeers and shouts of ‘Speak English’. She said six words of welcome for goodness sake.
I suspect this fury has been fired on by a fear that Māori political power is increasing and more and more they’re looking to be in charge of their own affairs. But to be frank a hatred of Māori has been bubbling under the surface for a while and it affects many non-Māori in this country
Strengthening the Bridge
Following the Tauranga Rate Payers incident I am actually in Tauranga and attend the Māori Anglican Church, All Saints, Maungatapu, for Te Pouhere Sunday celebrated each year. Pou means a post and here means to bind. It is the post the waka (canoes) are secured to. The symbolism is the three cultural waka of the Aotearoa New Zealand Anglican Church, Pākehā (non-Māori), Māori, Pacific Island. It has many nuances but is summed up in this collect for the day.
Creator God, you make the sun to give light in the day, the moon and the stars for guidance at night, you divided the seas making a path through the waters. Grant that, sailing out in our canoes of Tikanga Pākehā, Tikanga Māori, and Tikanga Polynesia, we may follow the way you have charted for us and from our separate home ports to find our
common destination in you. We ask this through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
The photo is of Rev. Vianney Douglas and myself in All Saints Church. Rev. Vianney has a moko kauae, a tattoo on her chin. I felt this notable on a Christian minister.
The early Christian missionaries and colonisation officials in the 19th century heavily discouraged tattoos; this, meant the tradition began dying out in the mid-19th century.
A moko kauae pattern represents a woman’s whānau, (family). Recently there has been a resurgence interest in moko kauae.
….deciding to reclaim their heritage and identity.
In 2020 Nanaia Mahuta was the first female Member of Parliament in Aotearoa New Zealand to have a moko kauae. At the time of this writing she is the government Minister for Foreign Affairs.
This artwork showing a moko kauae is on the side of a building in Ahuriri, Napier. It is of a legend Pania of the Reef.
Pania was a beautiful maiden who lived in the sea. By daylight she swam about with other sea creatures but after sunset would go to a stream that ran into the bay where the city of Napier now sits. She married a human who tricked her after marriage so she returned to the sea.
A country flourishes when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic culture, technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture.
Hoochie Coochie Man
When the opportunity arises at the holiday parks I practice playing my guitar. I was in the TV room in the early afternoon whilst it was empty playing a few songs.
Eric Clapton says no matter how he tries to move away from the blues he always comes back to it. I relate very much to that.
I played and sang Muddy Water’s I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man, not sure if the lyrics are appropriate for me – I know the lyrics off by heart since my days in a blues band in the late 60’s. However after listening to an interview of the highly accomplished guitarist Pat Metheny, I realised this history was deeply part of my identity, my life formation.
This evening I received a video link from a colleague, Bosco Peters, of a documentary about the tape recordings Thomas Merton had made – Day of a Stranger. At the end of the trailer for the documentary is Thomas Merton in his Hermitage having a good time listening to and reacting to a recording of I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man.
I love it when these little interludes come together in a day!
Because I was not in my usual routine it provided the opportunity to study a few online Worship Leading series, mainly by a musician called Paul Baloche, from the evangelical tradition.
He was brought up in a Roman Catholic family so is very mindful of other traditions and I was pleasantly surprised how his way of thinking was not that different. There were sections on the psalms for example. He also shows an understanding of different congregations varying from a retirement home to a stadium performance situation. Thus, being a servant to the pastor and the people.
He thought it was important to learn some songs by heart, just like the psalms, so that they go inside your being. Some points would be obvious to us in the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions such as choosing the songs to match the scripture. This also made me mindful of how beautiful our liturgy is, how we tell the story, day by day, week by week.
We liked this town very much as it seemed authentic and yes indeed, ‘Good for your soul’. We were told it has its problems like all towns but because it is a town with a population under 2000 they are able to deal with these situations.
The town is on the tourist route but remote. It has a wonderful 19th century feel to it. The old buildings have been retained with a few added quirks as in the photo of what is now the laundrette.
I wondered where the name for the town came from. A ship H.M.S. Coromandel was originally built as the East Indiaman Cuvera at Kolkata, India in 1798. The British Admiralty purchased the ship from the East India Company and renamed the ship Coromandel after a coast in India.
In 1819 the ship was fitted for convict transport to New South Wales, Australia and travelled there. In 1820 the ship arrived and left her compliment of prisoners and soldiers in Australia, then proceeded to Aotearoa New Zealand to acquire timber spars for the Royal Navy and to undertake coastal survey work. Entering what is now Coromandel Harbour the ship moored and remained for a year loading kauri timber for spars. The town’s harbour and entire peninsula are named after the ship.
This painting depicts the ship moored in Coromandel Harbour.
Coromandel is the Dutch pronunciation of the word ‘Karimandalam’, a village in India. An Italian explorer, Ludovico di Varthema, perhaps first gave the name Coromandel in 1510, which was then used on maps by the Portuguese. The Coromandel Coast in India includes the area where the Camaldolese Saccidananda Ashram is located. No wonder this feels so right!
On Sunday Coromandel gifted a surprising church visit. Christ Church is an Anglican church fully in the Anglo Catholic tradition and just wonderful for me to find this in Aotearoa New Zealand. The church apparently always had an aumbry but it was when a priest, Philip Sallis arrived in 2014 that it followed the Anglo Catholic tradition. Philip Sallis was a professor of computer science at Auckland University and Pro Vice Chancellor. He died in 2020.
The church has as its Patron Saints both St Benedict and St Francis.
This is a dedicated community. The congregation on the day was around 15 people of whom three were oblates of the Benedictine Holy Cross community and also a Third Order Franciscan. The organist had travelled one and a half hours on a twisting narrow coastal road to play the organ.
There was no priest this Sunday so the service was Morning Prayer, Mass is once or twice a month and a priest has to travel from Auckland – a drive of about two and a half hours.
Coromandel Town started as a gold mining centre. It has many pubs and old hotels for its size, a reminder of its past. It reminds me of towns in American Wild West movies, but without the gun slingers or the swinging saloon doors.
It is such an unusual setting that Kathy and I went to the pub a few evenings whilst we were here, something we very rarely do. I was mindful of Fr. Mychal Judge’s prayer for going forth…Let me meet who you want me to meet…
I met Jimmy (name changed) sitting at the bar.
He told me this story. He was born into a Roman Catholic family; his mother died when he was four and his father when he was six. This left him an orphan. The church decided to take him into the orphanage, but an uncle and aunt said they would look after him. The church did not agree and made moves to have him taken to the orphanage; the uncle and aunt refused to let this happen and he was cared for by them. For this stance the church excommunicated his uncle! His uncle carried this hurt throughout his entire life.
Jimmy became Presbyterian at one point and had been with the Hare Krishna community in Auckland. All this gave me an opportunity to briefly talk about my own faith tradition, New Camaldoli and Shantivanam.
That was it. I guess we just connected for a moment in time.
War and Humanity
I visited St George’s Memorial Church where the Battle of Gate Pā (Pukehinahina) was fought near Tauranga on 29 April 1864. This battle was notable for the ferocity of the fighting and the repulse of the British forces.
It is perhaps more notable for an act of chivalry by one of the defenders a woman, Hēni Te Kiri Karamū, also known as Hēni Pore (Jane Foley) who risked her life by giving water to a dying British officer and other wounded men.
The British were intent on acquiring the land at Tauranga and displacing the Māori tribes of the area. The Māori issued a challenge to the British to fight and even built a road to make it less tiring for the British soldiers!
The challenge was written by Hēnare Wiremu Taratoa, an Anglican Lay Reader educated at St John’s College in Auckland.
March 28, 1864
Potiriwhi, District of Tauranga.
To the Colonel,
Friend, -Salutations to you. The end of that. Friend, do you give heed to our laws for regulating the fight.
Rule 1. If wounded or captured whole, and butt of the musket or hilt of the sword be turned to me, he will be saved.
Rule 2. If any Pākehā, being a soldier by name, shall be travelling unarmed and meets me, he will be captured, and handed over to the direction of the law.
Rule 3. The soldier who flees, being carried away by his fears, and goes to the house of the priest with his gun (even though carrying arms) will be saved. I will not go there.
Rule 4. The unarmed Pākehās, women and children, will be spared.
The end. These are binding laws for Tauranga.
By Terea Puimanuka
Or rather by all the Catholics at Tauranga
Māori had traditionally shown little mercy in battle, so these were new concepts. They reflect the influence of the missionaries and introduction of Christianity that many Māori had embraced.
These were also new concepts for the British who didn’t know what to make of this document and ignored the rules.
… In the Tauranga district a remarkable document that bore some striking similarities with the First Geneva Convention signed months later in Switzerland also emerged …
Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church Encounter
Whilst visiting St. George’s Gate Pā we found the church was unfortunately closed. Standing outside were a group of Indian men and women. The women were dressed in saris.
I began talking with them; they said they had just used the church so I asked if they were Christian. Nikhil in the photo is their local secretary; he told me they were with the Syrian Jacobite Orthodox Church. My images of Russian and Greek Orthodox Church did not seem to relate.
St Thomas in India. I explained my own Camaldolese tradition and our ashram Saccidananda. They emailed me a Wikipedia link to the church which was fascinating but complex.
Their previous Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, had worked in ecumenical dialogue, was a President of the World Council of Churches, and attended the Second Vatican Council as an observer. He died in 2014.
The headquarters of the church is at Puthencruz in Kerala, India.
I was very pleased to see St George’s church hospitality, enabling this Orthodox community to use the church for their worship as in this photo.
A church built on a site of division, witnessing to unity.
We travelled from Taupō to Napier on Highway 5. The police road signs say ‘Stay alive on 5’ for good reason.
About a year ago we were on this road, Coronavirus had hit and we were rushing to get home before lockdown. The time pressure plus the subconscious and conscious concerns around the pandemic made the trip unpleasant.
The road crosses over several mountains shrouded in the cloud, across the Mōhaka Gorge, a spectacular drop to the river below.
I have found driving this road stressful on previous trips and said I would not do it again, however here we were on this road again, in the clouds.
On the way to Napier we nearly ran out of petrol. There are no petrol stations over the mountains for 143 kilometres and no warning signs of this. There was a cafe that sold emergency petrol at three times the regular price. I was very grateful to pay the money. They sold 10 litres at a time, enough to get to the other side. The owner told me over seventeen years he had sold more than 19,000 cans of fuel.
When we returned from Napier to Taupō the journey was wonderful as we rolled along, up and down, awe inspiring views. A tank full of petrol, so no hurry. The traffic behind the caravan seemed accepting and overtook when they could.
[Dean Moriarty hitchhiking in the back seat talking to Sal Paradise]
Then he whispered, clutching my sleeve, sweating, ‘Now you just dig them in front. They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there – and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see. But they need to worry and betray time with urgencies false and otherwise, purely anxious and whiny, their souls really won’t be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions to fit and go with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, and all the time it all flies by them and they know it and that too worries them no end.’
Ngā Herenga – Connections
I have an unusual experience to share but first there is background which will help elucidate this story.
From early times Christianity in Aotearoa New Zealand has been entwined with Māori spirituality. As one Māori elder said to me ‘I think we taught them [the Missionaries]’, I believe there is an element of truth in this as we can learn today from indigenous cultures that were dismissed by Europeans.
For those not familiar with indigenous culture it can appear strange and challenging.
A whare whakairo is a Māori meeting house with carvings and traditional artwork, usually named after an ancestor.
Before entering the whare whakairo shoes are removed. As you enter the kūwaha (doorway) there is a transition from the two different realms. The outside world is where Tūmatauenga, the god of war lives. Whereas, inside the whare Rongo-mā–Tāne, the god of peace dwells.
This is an obvious and often potent threshold. You feel almost compelled to pause, knowing that the barrier is not just a doorway, but is a traverse into a different place. The interior of the house has a different feel, a different sense and is differently tapu [sacred].
Whare whakairo, are replete with symbology and the symbolic nature of the house is both general and also specific. There is a general symbology in the idea of the house representing the local hapū [sub-tribe]. As well, however, components of the house are themselves representational and have additional meaning beyond their basis as carved architectural elements, which make those elements specifically iconic.
The symbology starts with the broad ideal of the house as an agent for the mana [honour, prestige, spiritual well-being] of the hapū , so, many whare are for instance named as eponymous ancestors and then are filled with the spirit of that ancestor, metaphorically at the very least.
Carvings, particularly those for Whare whakairo, were deeply tapu and that tapu commenced even before the carving. Specialist wood carving priests, Tohunga whakairo rakau, would preselect wood, that wood becoming more tapu with the processes that followed.
We have been fortunate to meet such a cross section of society. Our favourite holiday park is because of the staff. The park also has several units as part of a government project for those without homes at present. The place has a very good feel.
On our last stay at this park we had a family arrive, mother, father and two small children. They have a house in another town but the father was working in the area, so they came with their caravan to stay in the holiday park.
When they arrived they were in a mess so I helped them set up their awning in the dark and wet and explained the parts they needed to buy in order to erect the awning properly. They never thanked me then or the next day which I thought was strange, but that was ok.
Their stay began to unravel. They played loud music all day and late with the two children in their small area. The mother was disconnected from her children; she walked around the holiday park holding her phone whilst the smallest child a little older than a year, followed along screaming for its mother. The elder child of about four years old held the little one’s hand. They were often just wandering around the holiday park with the mother having no concern as to where they were. The father was at work during the day while the mother seemed to lack any social skills or awareness. My feeling was this would have been a generational problem. She did not know how to be a parent; something must have been missing in her upbringing. It seemed very sad as to what was going to happen to these children. Would they be the same or would the cycle be broken?
About twice a day I would go to the park community kitchen to wash the dishes and be open to meet others on the road and in the units. I was conscious of a family of five who were talking with their children very carefully, quietly questioning them and having intelligent discussions around the table in the dining room which was off the side of the kitchen. I heard the father say something like ‘some religious people still think slavery is acceptable’. And I heard the word Christian. Difficult situation as I did not want them to think I was eavesdropping, however felt I could not let this go without some comment. So when I had finished washing up and on my way out I went over to make conversation. After introductions I mentioned I had heard the word slavery and that I had only just been reading about two slave owning families who had been handsomely compensated when slavery was abolished. They had come out to Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and set up their own dynasties. That then led me into discussion on the responsibility for the slave trade and the abolitionists in Great Britain, and I gently suggested they watch the movie Amazing Grace to understand. They appeared very keen to do this and said they would obtain the DVD. I am sure they will as they wish to educate their children. I could see they are socially aware when they spoke to me of a particular injustice to Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Both these families were at the holiday park at the same time.
I am reading a book about a remarkable parent. The Color of Water written by James McBride about his mother, Hudis Shilsky. A particular line from the book resonated with all the above.
My parents were non materialistic. They believed that money without knowledge was worthless, that education tempered with religion was the way to climb out of poverty in America, and over the years they were proven right.
Is the Spirit connecting all these situations together for me?
St Faith’s Church, Ōhinemutu
We visited St Faith’s Church, Ōhinemutu, Rotorua. This church is a beautiful example of Māori art and symbolism. A church has stood at Ōhinemutu since 1885.
The first St Faith’s was called Te Hāhi o Te Whakapono – The Church of the Faith and the second dedicated on the same site in 1914 was called St Faith’s Anglican Church.
In 1976 the Galilee Chapel was built to be evocative of the interior of a meeting house. At the end is an etched glass window depicting Jesus clothed in a Māori korowai (cloak) with tassels and a decorative tāniko (intricate twined border). The elaborate cloak indicates this is a person of importance. Lake Rotorua can be seen through the glass of the window. From inside the church, depending where you stand it appears as if Jesus is walking on the surface of the water or has just stepped off and is approaching you.
The church is linked to a remarkable man named Ihāia Te Ahu. Born around 1823 into Te Uri Taniwha hapū of the Ngāpuhi tribe, he grew up at Kerikeri in the home of lay missionaries. When the missionaries moved to Rotorua in 1835 to found the first mission station there, Ihāia went with them.
In 1857 he began preparing for ordination and was ordained in 1861.
Ihāia Te Ahu was appointed as the first vicar of the Ōhinemutu pastorate in 1882.
The church I attend when home is named Ihāia after this man.
It is fitting to end this journal with the story of a man who came from Kerikeri and returned back to that area at the end of his life.
We return to Kerikeri to our new ‘beginning’.
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered . Nelson Mandela.
In my beginning is my end. … In my end is my beginning. T S Eliot, Four Quartets.
The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had done so for a long time. Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human. Rachel Joyce, The unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
I could never have imagined how significant this road trip would prove to be. Discussing this journey with a friend Stephen Chen, a young creative scientist who has studied religious traditions, he said to me ‘we have to leave our comfortable place in order to find fulfilment in God’.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen
Ephesians 3:20-21 NRSV.
This glossary is not intended to provide a complete meaning or translation of the words, but to be sufficient for the purpose of clarifying the words used in the journal.
Anzac: An acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a grouping of several divisions created early in the Great War of 1914–18
Anzac Day: A national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand observed on 25 April. It commemorates New Zealanders killed in war, and also honours returned and serving servicemen and women. The date marks the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915
Aotearoa :Traditional Māori name for New Zealand which is interpreted most often as Land of the Long White Cloud.
Aotearoa New Zealand:
Contemporary un-official name for the country of New Zealand (the author’s preference) which acknowledges the indigenous beginnings. New Zealand was renamed by the ‘discovery’ of Aotearoa by Captain Cook
aroha: Love, compassion
hapū: Sub tribe, pregnant
herenga: Connection, bind together
kapa haka Māori: cultural performance, singing and dancing
kete: Woven flax bag
koru: Unfurling fern frond, can represent new life, growth
kuia: Female Māori elder
Māori: Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand
marae: Traditional Māori meeting area, usually with a meeting house.
moko kauae: Traditional tattoo on a female’s chin
Ngāti: Tribal prefix, people of. Usually an ancestor, however in the
case of Ngāti Ranana this was used to refer to London – Ranana.
Ngāti Rānana: London Māori Club
Pākehā: Non-Māori person
pou: Wooden post
Rīpeka whiringa harakeke: Woven Flax Cross
Rongo-mā–Tāne: The god of peace
rōpū: Sub tribe
te reo Māori: The Māori language
Te Whare Wānanga: Māori educational institution
tohunga: Traditional Māori priest
tōtara: An Aotearoa New Zealand tree
Tūmatauenga: The god of war
Tarawera: Volcano near the town of Rotorua
whare whakairo: Carved Māori meeting house
whānau: Family, to give birth