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Earthskin History

Welcome to our history page. My name is Nancy King, and as the founder, and an elder, I am aware that I too am part of the active history of  a continuum of  Earthskin stories that speak to our connection with the earth, family and community: three elements that form the essence of Earthskin. 


The seeds of Earthskin were planted and enriched by my family's deep-seated guidance that real wealth and learning come from appreciating the rhythms of life and connection to the earth, which is what really sustains us. I have absorbed this family ethos as a focus for our mahi with Earthskin - strengthening our local community as a place of creative vitality, learning and change.


The name ‘Earthskin’ was fortuitously birthed with a misheard name of the premises of my then art school. The old ‘Erskine’ building morphed to my ears as “Earthskin”. . . I heard the sound and the directive.


In 2009, I purchased our foundational property from Lizzie Haylock and Doug Kerrisk, and it became known as “Earthskin Muriwai”.  It was an amazing open-planned home deep in ancient Nikau bush and heritage Pohutukawa trees. This magical land sitting on the edge of an old Marae, barely touched by human intervention, was so profoundly sacred. 


It was here that “The Creative Artist Residency Project” was born, with the consistent support of my then-partner, Simon, and the incredible groundwork from my co-director, Veronique Desmet. As a co-creation of ideas and ideals, as well as learning, unfolded - a purpose-built artist residence complete with a studio came into being and continued from strength to strength for the next decade. To date, seventy five Artist Residencies  have been completed.


As of 2013, Earthskin began awarding scholarships, in collaboration with Te Moata Trust, offering Permaculture Design Certificates with Trish Allen and Daniel Tohill.  Simultaneously, our relationship with The Koanga Institute, a trust holding the largest collection of New Zealand Heritage Seeds, commenced. This was the birth of the Earthskin Scholarship programme, which has already provided the grounding for sustainability-focused education for over 50 students. 

In 2017, we began to walk alongside the Charities Commission to strengthen and firmly ground our deed, and allow for philanthropic support, empowering us in our broad mission.


With the global changes that COVID delivered, came the sale of the Earthskin Muriwai property and thus the sad conclusion of The Creative Artist Residency Project. As such, the trust went into hibernation until 2021. 

Yet, new light has emerged as we welcome my exceptionally talented daughter, Vanessa, as a trustee, introducing the beginnings of an intergenerational legacy for Earthskin. 


Our New Story continues at The Waygood Foundation in Piha, with Claire Inwood as care-taker supreme, supported by the lovely Laura Wieland. Claire embodies the true meaning of care as she pours her kindness and beauty into the land and community.  Furthermore, with our rehoming at the recently acquired “Earthskin Warkworth”, the beginnings of an integrated community-education initiative, and a refocused Ecological Artist Residency, are being developed. 

We could not have achieved so much at Earthskin Muriwai without the incredible support of Veronique Desmet in her multifaceted role, and the care and time of Simon, Judy for her winter caretaking,  John Blackburn for his contribution to the naming of the artist residency project, Robin, Anthony, Sue, Pipi, Thaddeus, Bene, Danielle, Gerry Henley, Karuna and Todd, Christine, Amanda, Brian and Gayleen from Muriwai, plus all the marvelous service people who cared for our beautiful Earthskin home. 
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