Lucia and I enjoyed a lovely sunset walk on the beach this evening. The colors were stunning so I ran back home for the camera. Unfortunately, the best of the color had gone by the time I returned. But I decided to post a couple anyways plus a few others for your enjoyment.

John

West End of the Beach

East End of the Beach on Low Tide (Where We Swim)

Part of Our Recent Peach Harvest

Some of the Babacos I Love (Papaya Family of Fruit)

A Spiral of Cedar Boughs for Our Winter Solstice Celebration

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Cherry Tomatoes

We’ve had an extremely dry summer. The drought started in late November and we’re not finished yet. With so many of us in this part of the world relying on rainwater for our household use and in the garden, it has been a challenge. A couple of women attending Lucia’s yoga class yesterday said they’ve let go of watering their vegetable gardens. There simply isn’t enough water. I know these have been difficult decisions for each of them to make them because they love their gardens.

We’re lucky. We have one 5000 gallon tank supplied by the water collected on the roof of our large shed/garage. And we a have a huge rectangular concrete tank under the deck of our house, fed by the expansive roof area of this colonial bungalow. We still have water because we’re able to collect a lot from dew and from the very occasional light shower of the last months and because we practice frugality.

One of the bonuses of such a dry summer is that the water quality of the ocean is better than usual. This is because the rains are not washing pollutants from the soil to the sea. So we’ve been swimming a lot, often twice a day.

New Zealand Fairy Tern

Yesterday I was out about 150 metres from shore in the midst of a flock of Fairy Terns. I would have thought they’d find more private fishing grounds when I arrived but, no, they continued to dive all around me. I surmised my flailing was disturbing the fish, making it even easier for the terns to find a meal. I didn’t mind at all.

Night Blooming Jasmine

Our drought is a reminder of the dualistic nature of our world. Often in the winter we have so much rain that the earth becomes saturated, leading to flooding the next time a heavy drenching of rain occurs. Then, you could say we have too much rain and now you could say we don’t have enough. I prefer to focus on what we have and what we’ve gained in each circumstance.

There is a positive for every negative. And our job is not to change (or want to change) the outer. This would mean resistance and resistance leads to pain. Our job is to turn away from our attachment to the outer, to form, and to find the deep abiding peace that exists inside, behind the surface of form and duality. This peace is totally independent of what is happening outside.

Wild Ginger

In the midst of our drought there is great beauty. Peaches and cherry tomatoes are ripening beautifully in the sun. The cicadas and crickets add their magical cadence to the ethers. Queen of the Night (Night Blooming Jasmine) and wild ginger lend their sweet fragrance. All is well in our world.

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and a bit of fun with David Letterman. 

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

 

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The Beach Dancers. John in Purple Wig!

I’ve made several posts over the last months describing my family’s involvement with our monthly Céilís in Mangonui. I thought I’d paste below an article I wrote this week for the Northland Age, a local paper. Hopefully it creates for you a picture of this special event. The photos should help too.

Saturday, September 19th saw the unfolding of the monthly Céilí (pronounced ‘kay-lee’) in the Mangonui Hall. One of the features of a Céilí is the opportunity for attendees or band members to present an ‘item’ at some point in the evening. These items can take the form of a song, a dance, a story, a skit or an instrumental performance. Over the three and a half years the Céilí has been running in Mangonui there have been some pretty amazing items. The September Céilí was no exception. First, after about four dances, MC Brian Farrant announced there were some people about to arrive modelling 1920s beach wear. In bounded 8 members of the Kaitaia Scottish Country Dance club led by their gregarious leader, Brian’s wife, Gladys Farrant. The beach wear was colourful, if not exactly true to the period, and the dancing performed by the group brought smiles and laughter to the audience. Not to be missed was Gladys chasing fellow dancer and interestingly attired Ron Rice with a child’s plastic spade.

One of the founders of the local Céilí, Jill Freeman, entertained with the hilarious story of the gender of a computer (a story currently making viral rounds of the world via emails) and later, after more dancing and supper, Kerikeri’s Bill Dawes demonstrated his considerable prowess on the tin whistle. One listener was overheard saying, “That first song was powerful. It brought tears to my eyes.” Bill was quick to point out after his poignant offering that it was all done on a $5 whistle!

The Céilí band, Spootiskerry Spraoi (pronounced ‘spree’), was there as always providing foot stomping, toe tapping music led by band leader Jax Pellett on fiddle. This band gives their musical accompaniment entirely voluntarily and the composition of the band is fluid as members take off temporarily to fulfil other obligations. Replacement musicians jump to the fore to ensure great music is heard and danced to every month. The aforementioned Bill Dawes was one such fill-in on Saturday together with Grant Goodwin on the Bodhran (‘bow-ran’). People who were lucky enough to attend Trial by Jury by the Bay of Islands Singers would have seen Grant in another musical role.

The Céilí organisers invite you to attend on the third Saturday of every month at the Mangonui Hall. The next one will be October 17th. The doors open and the music starts at 7.00 pm.

Dancing begins at about 7.30 pm. Entrance fees are $2 per adult plus a plate for supper. Entry is free for accompanied children. It doesn’t get much more reasonable than that.

This is good old fashioned fun for all ages in an alcohol-free setting in the enchanting ambience of historic Mangonui Hall on the waterfront. Come along and enjoy. No dance experience is necessary and it is perfectly permissible to simply watch.

The Kaitaia SCD Beach Dancers in Mangonui

The Kaitaia SCD Beach Dancers in Mangonui

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

Woven Pingao

Woven Pingao

My recent guest on Voices from the North was Laura Shaft. From growing up on the Thames Estuary, to sailing around the world, to her present work of dune reparation as Coast Care Co-ordinator with Northland Regional Council, Laura speaks with enthusiasm and clarity about her love of the sea and the coastlines here in New Zealand.

The interview can be heard here:

During the course of our discussion Laura acknowledged the huge efforts of certain members of the community in taking it upon themselves to improve sections of our coastlines. In particular master weaver Betsy Young was mentioned as a lady who’s done much to highlight the plight of the endemic coastal plant, Pingao, which not only stabilizes dunes, it is used effectively and beautifully in weaving.

Pingao Plant. New Zealand's Golden Sedge

Pingao Plant. New Zealand's Golden Sedge

And Laura mentioned the efforts of Trisha Edwards to galvanise the community and Taipa Area School to improve the present and the future of Taipa Beach. Every child at the school was given the opportunity to plant something in the ongoing project of beach restoration. I have personally seen the huge improvement at Taipa and Betsy, Laura and the fluid team of volunteers of all ages at Taipa are to be commended.

I was intrigued when Laura explained how the contour of a dune is dependent on the plant guild making it up. Dunes inhabited by natives like pingao and spinifex take on a more gradual profile than those covered in non-endemic species like kikuya. And these more gentle sloping dunes are more resistant to erosion. It makes sense. These native species have evolved over long periods to perfectly suit this coastal environment.

Laura encouraged listeners to approach her if they saw a local need to make improvements to their dunes. Sometimes solutions are as simple as the placing of a warning sign or strategically placed fencing or bollards to reduce unnecessary traffic on fragile dune-scapes.

Laura finished with an appeal to listeners to get involved during upcoming events such as the beach clean-up at Tokerau Beach on September 19, 2009 (coinciding with International Coastal Clean-up Day).

Music during the interview, as always chosen by my guest, was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits and Queen’s song, Friends will be Friends—fitting choices for the co-operative theme indicative of successful coastal restoration efforts.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

Sue Bradford, Green Party Member of Parliament in New Zealand, has twice been named backbencher of the year. She is ranked number three on the Green Party List voted on by all Green Party members, coming in behind the co-leaders Russel Norman and Jeanette Fitzsimons. Sue had three private member bills passed into law in the last 2008 parliamentary session, more than anyone ever has. Listen to the complete interview below:

 

She speaks with passion of the role of the Green Party being a voice for the environment and for the voiceless members of society. She eloquently elaborates on how the Greens look to the long term—50 to 100 years—rather than the superficial perspective the big parties tend to have.

 

Sue explains how the Vietnam War influenced her as a teenager during a year her family spent in Wisconsin. Her lifelong passion for standing up to injustice was initiated during that North Amercian sojourn. Her comments on the upcoming US elections (this Voices from the North Interview was recorded in October, 2008) are insightful. She describes America as an empire in collapse. She calls tax cuts superficial and ‘like fiddling while Rome burns.’

 

She speaks of the damage in low income communities of ‘pokies’ (slot machines) and how the main parties seem to have a ‘conspiracy of silence’ with issues like this. Sue, herself a mother of five children, elaborates on the importance of early childhood education for all socio-economic classes. This was a timely interview as the New Zealand elections were November 8th, 2008.

 

 

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

 

 
 

It Once Was a Mountain

Ok Tedi: It Once Was a Mountain

In 1987, while backpacking through Papua New Guinea, I came face to face with a multinational mining company that knocked the top off a mountain in search of gold. I chronicled that debacle in In Search of Simplicity and you can read of it here. This brazen act of modern engineering resulted in masses of toxic waste silting the previously pristine Fly River and forever altering the serene lives of countless villagers living along this watercourse.

 

A couple of years ago I took our two teenage daughters to watch a screening of the documentary, China Blue. The award winning film maker, Micha Peled was on hand to answer questions afterwards.

 

China Blue is the true story of a 14-year-old country girl voluntarily leaving her sleepy village to work in virtual slavery in a jeans factory in China’s industrial southeast. The film makes it creepily clear how our consumption habits in the affluent West can have major detrimental impacts on the lives of people in faraway lands, just as those same consumption habits can have major detrimental effects on the environment in far away lands like Papua New Guinea.

Do we need to return to more locally-based economies and more local manufacturing? It can be safely said that New Zealand has been exporting jobs to Asia for many years now. Is this not the case in most Western lands? Wouldn’t it be satisfying to see ‘Made in New Zealand’ printed on more consumer items rather than the ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ we see today? Wouldn’t this result in more jobs for New Zealanders? Each of us can help this shift to occur by purchasing more food and other items that we know are produced in New Zealand. Even if you only shifted five dollars a week from imported goods to local goods it would make a huge difference. In today’s world we vote as much with our pocketbooks as we do on official ballets. In a consumer society, our purchasing habits are powerful.

I don’t begrudge the rights of emerging nations like China to progress, but don’t you think your neighbour’s challenged business deserves a chance? I personally would rather spend a few dollars more for a locally produced item of quality than for an imported piece of junk that simply won’t last. I finally had to replace my New Zealand-made MacPac daypack recently when one of its straps began to give out after almost 17 years of daily service. I could not find a new replacement pack with the quality and durability of that original bag. How can we get back to making quality, local goods? How can you contribute to this shift? I believe this step is possible. But it will take our collective will to make it happen.

John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives. In Search of Simplicity is a startlingly poignant real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life. John Haines hosts a popular weekly interview program, Voices from the North, from his place in paradise in New Zealand’s subtropical far north, and leads what he calls ‘playshops’ in voice, sound and communication.

 

 
 

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In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews