Thursday, 30 December 2010


Twenty men and forty women attended the ten day Vipassana course in a remote and peaceful valley 50 miles north of Auckland.

Vipassana meditation is a technique that was developed by the Buddha 2,500 years ago. It is not religious or sectarian. It has proved to be successfully used in prisons in India, also in a women's prison in America, all with dramatic results.

The days were long and hard: 17 hours, with two vegan meals,
rising at 04.00, breakfast at 06.30 and lunch at 11.30. Twelve hours were spent with eyes closed meditating in a hall
under subdued light. The sexes were strictly segregated. The only sound in the total silence was a gong which summoned one to start and finish meditating and to come to the silent meal times. It was revelatory to have unresolved thoughts come to the surface, which had lain buried, in the unconscious, for years and to be able to work on them.

Top. In thespian mode
Centre. A quiet glade
The Vipassana Retreat

Saturday, 4 December 2010


Wilderland is a charitable educational trust which was set up in 1964. Many people refer to it as a hippie commune, which is completely wrong, the garishly painted 1970's wooden houses may give that impression, so too can the members' faded, worn out clothes, which in fact are a result of working on the land in bright sunshine and their frequent washing.
This stay was my third over a 10-year period. Their main source of income has been from produce and value added products sold in the organic shop, which is situated on the main road nearby. This time I was the shop keeper on two occasions. Herbal Maori teas, crafts, traditional skin care potions and creams, creams for bites and cuts, the much vaunted manuka honey, as well as three other types, freshly squeezed citrus juices, macademia nuts and many other fruits and vegetables.
The tipi

Now the community is moving more towards education and outreach within the local community. Partnerships with business and commerce can serve as a valuable link for those who have no experience of living in harmony close to the beautiful local environment, which was once occupiedas aMaori settlement and burial site many years ago. To use the land special permission had to be obtained. The sois are deep and dark. The gardens are set in small clearings set within the local native fauna.

Part of one of the citrus orchards

Each morning we assemble, after breakfast and get task assignments, which are both educational and well supervised. We work for four hours to fulfil our part of the exchange, before sitting down to a meal produced largely within the community and cooked by one of the team.
My time here has been quite magical, with laughter, good communication, openess and acceptance by younger people, which is pretty unique, and with healthy vegetarian food.
I will be out of action for the next two weeks because I will be attending a 10-day course in Vipassana meditation. During the period i will not be able to talk, a very hard thing for me, but I have done one before and survived

The rock pool is used after the sauna

Interior of the shop

A Wilderland view

The Pink House

Lunch time

Sauna in the bush


Older transport

The Dome House

Long drop composting toilet

Garden furniture!

Tipi: interior

Rob weeding

At home on the range