I am a native of New Zealand, my great-grandparents all
having come from England with the first settlers. 47 years old, I separated
from my husband when my sons were only 9 and 4. Chris and James are now 21
I haven’t regretted one minute of my life. I was raised in a ‘nice normal’
family -mother, father and three older brothers, brought up with good
wholesome values... My father was definitely a sexist - he said as I was a
girl I couldn’t go to university and become a vet but rather should get a
job until I married, because once ‘girls’ had babies they didn’t go out to
work - they stayed home and kept house. Ugh! But I wouldn’t have challenged
my parents at that stage of my life.
I did stand up to my parents, though, when I fell in love, to a man who was
married - well he WAS separated but they didn’t think that was relevant. It
took some talking to get permission to marry, even though I was
20-something years old. In fact it wasn’t until I was nearly 40 that (after
professional counselling) I learned how to deal with my ‘critical parents’.
I’m sure my father still considers me his "little girl".
I worked firstly as a secretary, later writing copy for advertising and
promotional mail. I went on to qualify in Direct Marketing, started up my
own direct marketing consultancy, but at the time of the share market crash
shifted out of the city and bought a small farm, ten acres (4ha), which I
ran organically, also working as a freelance journalist, became an AI
technician (cows) and ESL teacher.
Early in my marriage, when I was being a "good mum/housewife" I was
thoroughly bored. I was concerned at the way in which we (parents) were
learning to be parents - mostly our education came from the role models we
saw on television, and especially in commercials, i.e. we would buy a
product because we’d seen on TV that it could solve our problem. I spoke to
other young parents and they echoed my concerns so I founded a group called
"FRiends Of The Home" which shared ideas on environmentally friendly
methods of running our homes - organic gardening, earth-friendly cleansers,
a safer lifestyle.
When my marriage broke up FROTH was wound up too - it was just me doing all
the hard work. I still continued to base my busy lifestyle around
ecologically sound routines though.
My farm (we called it Merriemont) was a great place for the boys and myself
to live - and I taught myself to make butter, ice-cream, yoghurt and
cheese, from the milk I’d taken from the cows that morning. We often had
overseas visitors staying with us and it was truly a multicultural
household. One day I’d like to get back into a much more self-sufficient
lifestyle... one day.
Last year I started another group fostering household ecology - HOPE
(that’s Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment) shares
environmentally-friendly ideas for householders to use in their lifestyle -
no matter where they are or what they do each day.
Since I bought Merriemont, though, I’d been chasing my butt trying to keep
up with the mortgage repayments. Earlier this year I decided it wasn’t
worth what I was doing to my mental and physical health; I was getting
awfully negative about the world and life in general, and so I sold up and
decided to embark on what was a childhood ambition - riding horseback the
length of NZ.
I have been dreaming about such a trip since I was ten years old and read
of the epic journey made in 1925 by Aimee Felix Tschiffely, who took two
ponies off the pampas and rode from Buenos Aires to Washington DC. ('Tale
of Two Horses'; 'From Southern Cross to Pole Star'; 'Tschiffely’s Ride')
(Note: He intended to ride to New York - but the traffic was too bad!)
Riding south from Blenheim in mid-April (late Summer here), I covered
territory that would be inaccessible in the Winter. I have been posting
stories and photographs on Compuserve’s PACFORUM describing my adventures
and the tourist highlights.
I knew I’d love the horse-riding. I knew the scenery would be spectacular.
What I didn’t realise was that this would be a spiritual journey as well as
physical, renewing my zest for life and my enthusiasm for my country,
lifestyle and fellow kiwis. The people I’ve met have been so wonderful -
kind and friendly, helpful and considerate. It’s given me a new respect for
It’s made me think a lot about our planet and its people. I realise we need
conflict or we don’t ever have peace, because peace is the successful
resolution of conflict. What we don’t need is violence.
It’s made me appreciate that people need to be taught survival skills such
as the non-violent resolution of conflict and how to raise children. Many
years ago we learned these skills from our extended family and friends.
Today we often only have television and advertisements as role model and
The message behind the mighty NZ movie "Once Were Warriors" was that one
hundred years ago the European settlers brought many new things to the
Maori people. This was a whole new way of life to the Maori race. It was
difficult to be thrust into a world where there was money and guns, alcohol
and a new religion. The Maori were warriors, a proud, fighting race, that
would show their might winning battles, even enslaving and cannibalising
the losers on occasion.
Whilst our cultures have integrated peacefully, there have been
difficulties in making the transition to another culture, where to have
self-esteem means being employed, owning a house, TV and car. When I was a
schoolgirl very few people spoke Maori, and the crafts and customs were
dying. Fortunately, NZ has been making positive efforts to respect our
What I’m trying to say is that we so often impose our own values on other
people - without considering that the values they already have might be
completely valid. We assume that because they don’t share OUR values, their
values are not valid at all!
From what I’ve read through the introductions to WAVE, many of you have
become strong through pain. The pain I’ve experienced has been negligible
compared to what some others have endured. I hope that we can work together
to learn from our different experiences and all together make the world a
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