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  • Nancy King

Walking the green pathways

Kia Ora, and welcome to our Spring Equinox Gathering.


A most precious time to acknowledge the magic that surrounds our lives, as the trees and land bursts into colour -and my neighbours’ courtships and nesting are in full swing!


Over the last few weekends I attended two Conventions and one Hui, feeling like I had plummeted head first along a fast-forward time warp… and arrived, ( rather worse for wear I admit) in a groundswell of community. United in their long term goal to restore our environment: prepared to share the mahi (work) together, not in competition. Added to this, rather than fearing the future, seeing the positive benefits of AI being combined to extend the capacity of our professional and human resources of all ages to help our precious earth.


The stage is set to create a vast orchestra of fine tuned instruments merging to create a new sound - ready to speak, listen, learn and act in unison - as the old systems and thinking cracks apart and fights to maintain itself and control outcomes.


In our local Kaipara Flats area I booked our neighbourhood hall for a two day gathering of 150 people that could have easily doubled. An initiative run by The Forest Bridge Trust is a farmer led vision to create a connected landscape of healthy forest and flourishing indigenous wildlife from the Kaipara Harbour in the west, to the Pacific Ocean in the east. This is being done by supporting individuals and groups in the area with the tools and expertise to reach their conservation goals.


For a real treat to understand more of what they do, visit www.theforestbridgetrust.org.nz.


Also take a look at the New Zealand Hemp Association, which offered me and Earthskin the opportunity to attend another beyond impressive speaker line up of businesses highlighting the amazing future potential impact hemp could have, that is currently hindered by old legislation and outworn uninformed mythology.


This is a critical time, an exciting emerge-ancy to heed the words of our beloved elder, David Attenborough, as we walk down the green pathway together into the future.


“ It's surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that


provides a home, not just for us, but for all life on Earth.


The future of humanity and indeed all life on earth, now depends on us!”


Earthskin House in September


We are still unable to accept applications for both Piha and Warkworth at least until 2024 for the coming 2025 year. With still a plumbing system needing replacement at Piha,( now in the hands of the engineers), and preparing the Earthskin Kaipara Barn for Residencies - we are primarily focusing on restoring the properties to provide the full functionality, stability and beauty for the coming next twenty five years, at least!


Our carpenters Lukas and Felix at Earthskin House are underway creating the purpose built studio in our Earthskin Barn. With Sally Coles’ clear instructions of artists' needs and my friend Karin’s gentle reminders to keep me on track, plus a visit to my brother Kev’s emporium of saved building materials - and some skylights for summer breezes, it will evolve into a harmonious, light space to gather in, or work alone. Downstairs we are setting up for Permaculture community classes and Earth Building. With deep thanks to Trish Allen and her gifts of the Appropriate Technology traditional tools she and Joe have donated. They are now housed and in use at Earthskin.

The old house too is moving along, with the outside painting completed by our wondrous Augustine, the old farm kitchen shining, and a wilder than wild bathroom slowly emerging for use.


The gardens are lushly being reshaped by Anna, Nicola and Kate - in preparation for native wetlands plantings, wild herbs and even wilder flowers. We are setting up guilds and preparing for the forecasted long hot El Nino summer. Lawn mowing has temporarily stopped to rewild the environment for insect, flower and animal life for summer.



Oddly after adding hemp hurd to our post flood water-logged mud pathways for it’s high level of absorbance (noted gleefully after going to the last NZ Hemp Conference in Christchurch, and staggering back with a gifted trial bale), it is now going to be my summer saviour. To retain this precious moisture as a hemp mulch to enrich and build the soil, encouraging healthy earthworm, microbe and fungi activity like a sponge.


Surely a product for all seasons, to provide for all our needs.


I do wonder what is happening that this amazing basic multi-use natural commodity is not being used in our country to support our wonderful farmers and Maori collectives to create a stable economic base? That could sustain our shared future, and protect the land, trees and understory in this tender time of climate change.


While away in Christchurch I gifted my beloved restored Carder Lapper Machine to support Hemp Central, an Educational Hemp and Trial Centre being set up by Tanya Simmonds. This feels a perfect placement for her to be useful and part of an exciting project.


We had our very first monthly visit from our local Elder Care Home for morning tea and a garden walk, along with the opportunity for seed sharing and takeaways of fresh vegetables and fruit.


Apparently post Covid the elders are nervous of travelling far, so this is an opportunity for a bit of rewilding and laughter to take home and share.


The Annual extra-ordinary EBANZ Conference this November is in Waihi in the Coromandel. A special one off Earthskin Scholarship is now available for the whole Conference and, this year only, to cover accommodation as well. Plus membership to EBANZ as a complimentary gift from Earthskin!


They are nearly booked out already.


The deadline to apply for the Earthskin Scholarship is October the 15th.


Details are on this website so check it out now, and fill out the form and send to permyking@gmail.com.


We are fundraising with a wonderful friend of mine, Elspeth Terry, to cover this. So if you are also interested in helping young people to attend, or building their own home for a healthy future and gathering the tools to do this, get them to apply for this Scholarship, or help them to attend experiential courses.


Earthskin would also like to start an initiative to raise funds for the new building standards to be available in all New Zealand Libraries. Is there anyone skilled in helping raise funds who would like to help with this? We have the privilege of new standards for Green Building, so let's use them!! At present the government is holding them close and they are only available through them.


And speaking of funding, Earthskin is designing a new system for our donations page, so please excuse us as we change modes to create perfect harmony.


Now I will hand you over to Laura and Claire so they can share an update of what is happening at Piha.


News from Piha


Spring is slowly arriving and activities at The Waygood Foundation are starting to pick up again. The potters have the kiln working most days while firing their art works. Volunteers join us weekly and help to tidy up the gardens ready for planting, assisting with whatever our daily tasks are.


Elena hosted a beautiful Botanical Printing workshop, where participants could enjoy working with paint and immersing themselves in nature. She will be offering another workshop in November


Laura has been hosting a series of Regenerative Home Gardening workshops, with the purpose of inspiring people in the Piha community to grow their own food with the resources in their surroundings.



Our local potters Mandi, Sherryn and Iona have been using the kiln optimally. They have all been working towards exhibitions and the November Waitakere Open Studio.

There are plans for workshops to share their knowledge with the community.

Iona is offering Children’s and Adults multi media classes this Spring.



Over the winter months turmeric, kumara, water chestnuts and shallots were harvested.

Currently we are sowing summer vegetables, flower and tomato seeds and planting potatoes, which luckily were saved right before the flood in February. Our cloche is filled to the brim with seedlings, ready to be sold at the local Te Piha Market on Labour Weekend.


Although Spring brings much joy to us, we are often reminded of the damage from the cyclone. The Marawhara valley is still a swamp and a shocking sight to behold. Water issues are still current, but like anything in life, we adapt and continue. Replanting natives, sowing seeds and connecting with the people in our community.



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