Jacqui Knight

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

and 17.

 

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

life.

 

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

teacher.

 

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

multi-cultural individuality.

 

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

better place.

 

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