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  • Nancy King

Turning Seasons and Years

Earthskin looks back on a chock-full 2023, and forward to 2024; a prosperous year of connection and growing kindness.

Firstly, huge gratitude to you for being part of protecting our natural environment, and for valuing community initiatives like Earthskin Trust to facilitate change, learning, and restoration for all lives on this planet.

Thank you also for the support you give by reading and sharing stories, contributing toward our scholarships, and being part of this ‘small is beautiful’ gathering of like-minded souls.

I began writing this newsletter on New Year's Eve to say a happy hello, and to share photos of the amazing fullness that has been this past year, so my focus begins and rests with gratitude firstly in our history.

People and places I am grateful for 

My amazing dad, Les Harvey who began building Parnell Village in the sixties, taught me from a very young age, about nature and its complete abundance. I will always remember the magic of our early morning walks together. The sun shining through dew on the leaves of every tree and plant, offered precious moments to carefully catch a glistening jewel of life and taste the imprint of all of its life force present to heal and share with our lives. 

It is such a privilege being born into a wild family filled with kindness, music, creativity, and a keen sense of what is important; to create with beauty, to preserve the community, appreciate and share the sun, fruit, flowers, trees, old buildings, our skills, and our heritage.

My parents' thinking, and love of life, provided the basis of Earthskin’s directive, with every component as important, to sustain the whole. “The care of Heart, Art, the Skin of the Earth and all Kin”. ( not just human kin)  

Summertime also draws my senses back to Earthskin Muriwai, the beginning of this journey. I appreciate Veronique, and the many years we had together starting the Creative Artist Residency which nourished the seeds for the Earthskin Trust as it exists today.

Veronique, Gerry, the sacred Muriwai land of magic, the gardens, the artists and visitors, will forever be part of the rich building soil that is the foundation of our future and family.

The Waygood

I want to start with news from our Piha Community Centre, ‘The Waygood’ on my Mother’s family land and set in one of the founding Pakeha North Piha sites. Named after my grandfather Les Waygood, the heritage site is now surrounded by Permacultural gardens in the dunes of black sand beneath the huge old Pohutukawa trees. It has continued to thrive and function quietly and richly within the community under Claire and Laura’s gentle guidance, despite the severe destruction that Hurricane Gabrielle wrought throughout the area last summer.

Please take a look at Laura and Claire’s beautiful posts on Instagram.

We are looking forward to an exciting refresh on many levels at The Waygood this year, that will see our buildings and sewerage systems upgraded and permitted through the City Council in readiness for accommodating Earthskin Residents when completed.

Two of our previous resident artists, Martin Krammer and Sally Cole are visiting over the summer which is a real treat. 

49 Matthew Road Kaipara Flats Welcome

Now, walk beside me, and imagine arriving off a dappled, tree-lined, and dusty country lane. Come through the gate with the hand-carved Earthskin sign. 

To your left is a tiny shady glade filled to bursting with delicious mushrooms. Right next to this is the old round barn, the interior of which is busily being purpose-built for Earthskin activities and education. 

Community Earth Building students are learning to line the walls with hay for insulation, then covering them with a mixture of light earth and earth plaster, made with clay from our pond. Our cut bamboo will line the upper curve of the barn's roof interior.

Upstairs in the barn, a space for Creative Artist Residencies and gatherings is being built out of old windows and recycled kauri boards from my dad's storehouse of saved beauty. Now that the space is almost complete I am so excited and in love with how breathtakingly beautiful it is. The main comment I get from visitors is “Oh my gosh this would make the most beautiful apartment!”, and I have to say, I agree!

Coming around the new circular driveway to park, ( thank you, Guenther, for all your  ‘Let's do it!’ exuberance, support and teaching) and the 1867 bungalow, freshly painted brilliantly by Agustin - ( ‘Too easy’) you are welcomed to enter utter magic that opens doorway by doorway into this art house coming into being.

Minhal, the artist who created my dad's statue in Parnell, has muralled the walls, and the old kitchen site is resurrected so now the bungalow functions separately. The quirky refurbished bathroom and old kitchen, are nearly finished, and all my wood squirrelling has come into good use.

Walk further around the tiled pathway by the undercover fish pond, and you are in a new world …bombarded with the energy of twenty-five years of work, fun and full on fantasia encased by the love of Graeme and Denise North, and filled with wonder. You are now in our iconic earth built home.

Inside and out you are surrounded by nature in profusion -  doors open to the land, gardens and laden heritage trees fill this human initiated garden. Which is now preparing to face another challenge of change -  applying our newly purchased “ The Perelandra Garden Workbook’ to combine shared direction, form and expectations -  with nature's intelligence - and humans' co-creatively collaborating, and oddly, maintaining agreements with the weeds, seeds, herbs, fruit, vegetables, flowers, animals, rodents, birds, water, mushrooms, growing soil life and insects including snails and slugs who live here, to create balance.

Also this year we will be beginning preparation for setting up our Appropriate Technology Workshop at the back of the house, occupying the soon to be cleared out covered storage space beside our Mushroom House and using more old leadlight windows.

Here we will teach workshops about the characteristics of appropriate technology and the criteria applied to each piece of equipment. 

Trish Allen, renowned founder of Rainbow Valley Farm with her husband Joe Polaischer, has gifted Earthskin many of the tools they used to run their off-grid farm to care for and replicate.  

There is a wonderful old video of the tools in use from Country Calendar which is worth a look. 

None of this development would have been possible without the tremendous energy, and dedication of our Earthskin team here at Warkworth.  Of Guenther, our true warrior of Project Managing.  Anna, Nicola, Kate - our Permaculture garden and workshop organisational fairies. Patrick and Lukas, masters of wood, and Agustin, our house painter supreme and master of survival skills during Hurricane Gabrielle that hit us exactly one year ago today. With no power and way to get out of our road, he supported me consistently to also practice putting myself first …and finally my daughter Vanessa, Trustee of Earthskin. This wonderful team has already established many inspiring creations springing up like our mushrooms, and slowly. but surely this haven now feels like my home, as well as an exciting community learning centre, with the land as the main teacher.

Topping it up we now have a small strong and committed administration team that includes  Swaleha, Barbara, Patrick my accountant and John Cox our lawyer and our other Trustee, creating and planning for the future ongoing stability of Earthskin.

Until the change of season next news, may your days be blessed with grace and love.

Nancy x

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