Favourited 147 times
Tēna koutou! Hello!
Welcome to Le Bons Bay, Aotearoa New Zealand. Welcome to a place of tranquility, a place of growth, a place of love & kindness, a place for you to simply be.
Important: Please read all information provided below. Our land is situated in a relatively isolated part of the country, 1 hour 40 minutes drive from the nearest major city - Christchurch. Staying here requires a certain amount of perseverance and fortitude. The weather conditions can be extreme and demanding at times, thus, it is important that there is proper understanding of these points. It is also very important to us that you fully understand the ethos of the project so that we may work together in harmony to make this exchange a beautiful and rewarding encounter for all. With that being said, please continue!
It's mid winter and I'm sitting on the floor in the lounge, laptop perched on my knee; I can feel the arid heat of the fire radiating toward me from across the room. There has been a strong sense of mysticism on the land since my arrival, the awareness is such. The valley mist has been morphing and merging like a magician casting it’s spell. Today whilst outside gardening with Russell - the land holder and my godfather - I was ever present of the fact that this land holds something special deep within. It has a truely wonderful way of bringing peace and calm. Papatūānuku the earth mother holds you steady, she is the ground beneath your feet, ever connecting. The history of te whenua (the land) is long and colourful. It is full of life and death, it is living and breathing, just like us.
Here in lies the ethos and vision. We would love to extend the invite to those who are willing to make a choice. Will you attempt to be the change that you would like to see in the world? And, will you allow yourself the chance? For those willing, the opportunity is there to be a part of something full of love, discovery and wonder. Come and join us as we experiment with alternative forms of living that will help us to work toward sustainability and self sufficiency through co-creational effort. Let us explore what it takes to provide some of the basic fundamentals of life like food and shelter. Let us celebrate life by providing a space for artistic self expression; for the celebration of music and dance, for the celebration of community. Ok, so I hear you would like to make a sculpture for the garden? That’s wonderful! Go for it! You’d like to prepare and seed a garden for the first time? Even better, go for it! And today you woke up feeling inspired to learn how to make pottery, or, felt inspired to cook, felt inspired to write or perhaps you just felt like gardening. How about a walk in the vast expanses of native bush? Give yourself the chance to let nature cast her spell on you...but be warned, there are no returns! Maybe you’re an aspiring yoga teacher who would like a place to further your practice. Come, let us practice together. Maybe you practice daily meditation and would like a quiet haven to be at peace with. Please, let us sit together. Maybe you are a true child of the earth with an almighty green thumb? Well then, let us garden together. We can do and achieve all of these things and the limitations that we place upon ourselves only exist within our minds. Those same limitations will be gently dissolved as you rediscover your connection to nature and develop the deep sense of trust in the world that allows us to break free from a life time of being told...you can't do that. The 'Old World of Separation' no longer makes sense, we no longer believe in it. The hollowness and the emptiness that so many are experiencing is a direct result of this disconnecting path we've been on. This is the world that we inhabit at present and it is failing us. The story no longer nourishes or satisfies the soul but instead leaves us feeling empty and confused. The awakening is gaining momentum as more and more people find themselves asking, is this it? Is this really it? Well, I have good news for you! It is NOT it. The New World of Interbeing is upon us. This is a world of unconditional acceptance, togetherness and oneness... all held together with that beautiful thing we call love. This is not an airy-fairy dream but an all encompassing reality that will allow people to live with meaning and purpose. Nature has provided us this precious gift and she waits quietly, patiently, selflessly, always giving and non-expecting. This is a space for all; that means we are a LGBTQ+ inclusive community, come and be gay if you are and please feel safe to do so, come and be you. So no matter your creed or colour, no matter your sex or age, if you come with an open heart, a respectful and mature attitude with a will to work, grow and share… you will always be welcome here.
Your chest flutters,
the grass shimmers
and the breeze gently passes you by.
You smile to yourself,
Wow, this feels like magic!
Well, guess what...?
You are held by her spell.
So let it take you.
Let it guide you.
Let it love you.
Te whenua sits nestled at the head of the magnificent Le Bons Bay valley, Banks Peninsula. It was first home to the Māori, the native people of Aotearoa about 1000 years ago. Here they lived for centuries on what is the remnants of an ancient volcano, extinct for some 5 million years. What remains is a stunning peninsula steeped in history and culture. We are lucky to share the valley with a Scenic Reserve known by local Māori as Otepatotu, an ancient and mysterious place that was said to be home of the patupaiarehe, or Māori fairies, and of maero or wild men. The property, which covers more than 100 acres or 400,000 square metres, was once a thriving native tōtara subalpine rainforest. Sadly in moments of past history, humans have made poor judgement, and none poorer than the decision to cut down entire forests of pristine native bush for commercial practices in the 19th and 20th century. This was the case as colonialism dug in it’s claws here on the peninsula. Thankfully, even today, we are fortunate enough to still have ancient tōtara remaining. The oldest is believed to be an incredible 1200-1400 years old. That tōtara tree still stands strong and is a true symbol of Tāne-mahuta, god of the forest and the birds. The tree sits near the entrance to the property, quietly observing all that pass it by. It is also still the emblem for the land in which we live now.
In 1873, Hans Peter Rasmussen and wife, Kirsten Rasmussen left Denmark for New Zealand. Sadly, Kirsten died during the long and arduous ocean voyage, as did one of their infant children. At that time he arrived to a small village settlement known as Akaroa, a French colony in those days. Yet beyond all the grief, he came with high hopes and a dream to create a new life for himself and his family, and that is exactly what he did. Rasmussen arrived to the area of Le Bons Bay with virtually nothing. He lovingly crafted the original farm house and barn that still stand today. All of this work was done with only the use of rudimentary tools like the axe and adze. A truly remarkable achievement. The property has had several "owners" (nobody OWNS the land) since the 1800s, yet it has retained it’s original name given by the Rasmussen family. Today we still honour that. In the words of Russell… “One day we decided to take a drive from Christchurch to Banks Peninsula to look for land. As we passed along the summit road of Le Bons Bay and looked out, there it was! Once we arrived, we knew we'd found something special. I remember saying to Erik, I’d be happy to live and die here.” Russell and his partner, the late Erik Verbeek spent tireless hours, weeks and years pouring their love and devotion in to whatever they did. Their hard work and vision has set the stage for the ongoing transformational growth that occurs here everyday. And that brings us to now in 2019.
My name is Tom. I’m 29 years old. I was born and raised in Christchurch, NZ. I grew up there until I was 23. By this time I was a qualified carpenter and had been working in the field of residential construction for many years. In late 2012 on Christmas Day, I took off on a trip bound for South East Asia. Little did I know at that time, but this would signal the beginning of a long love affair with the discovery of the world and it’s abundant culture. I have spent the majority of the last 6 years living in, and travelling to different parts of the world. It has been rich with learning and personal growth. I have been fortunate enough to participate and help in numerous international projects, both professionally and as a volunteer. This was usually in the role of carpentry or creative construction, as I like to call it. And that is, to create and build with a free flow, without plans and without restriction of rigid methodology or state imposed regulation. My first Workaway experience came about in 2017. I responded to a listing calling all creative craftsmen and woman to be part of a growing art collective in Berlin, Germany. I jumped at the chance and that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with volunteering that still lives strong within me now. After discovering and tasting the freedom that came with living a minimalist lifestyle, that was enough, I was sold. I couldn’t see any other way in which I would like to live my life. The gift of giving was so fulfilling and rewarding that I decided to make volunteering my sole reason for adventure. Yes, the places that I travelled to were beautiful but, it was always about the people. It always came back to the people and the beauty that lies within heartfelt, meaningful connection, no matter the age or language barrier. I came to learn that love & the gift of giving will transcend all.
I arrived back home to New Zealand in early 2019 and returned to the place that occupied a lot of my early childhood, Le Bons Bay. Today, I look out down the valley at the splendour that lies before me with many dreams. After 6 years of travelling, I feel blessed to be able to stand on the other side of the volunteering experience. I get to contribute in holding a space as a host. I get to give back to a programme that enables the exchanges that taught me so much. A programme that unites all nationalities as one. I would also like to thank my late Godfather Erik for acting on his dreams & Russell for his selfless generosity. Without their doing, none of this would be possible.
On that note, a word from him.
I'm Russell. I'm 57. Erik & I bought the land in 1993. We took the opportunity to live simply, to enjoy everyday, to live in the seasons, to rely and believe in ourselves. For us, it was about sharing, learning, living in the moment and about having people around us that contribute to and enhance each others lives. For me, it is a place of self restoration, of awaking spontaneity and of peace. If you think this is a place for you, it probably is. I look forward to meeting you.
Thank you for your words Russell.
We are predominantly a vegetarian/vegan family. There will be some meals prepared that are vegan but this might not always be the case. There will still be organic free range eggs and honey around from time to time, however we are certainly not interested in supporting the commercial meat industry, the dairy industry or the continual degradation of natural resources as a result of livestock farming or the animal cruelty that often goes with it. We love and respect animals here. They are our best friends! If you include meat in your diet then it must be certified organic and certified to be ethically sourced/processed. I would like to point out that we are not for accusation or about stating who is right or who is wrong, for actually, there is no such thing. It will always remain a topic of open discussion and we encourage that, but let us discuss meaningfully without finger pointing. We are on the path of footprint reduction and this is somewhat of a gradual process. We are not perfect and there are many things that I wish to refine in my own life too. When we purchase products, we do so with several considerations in mind. The first being, do we actually need this? If so then, is it viable to afford the organic shelf option or not? Now this is where it can get cloudy, especially when trying to feed many people on a limited budget. Where is the middle path between ethics and the size of your bank account? It is a question I ask myself everyday. Currently, the land is not supplying much in the way of produce….well, not yet anyway! Almost all of the food that we will be consuming together - until the land is fruiting - will be purchased with private funds. Funds that need careful consideration to enable this project to run. I encourage all potential volunteers that stay with us to contribute some food. It doesn't have to be much but it really, really helps us to make this work! We try our best to buy locally and we will continue to make concerted effort to support local growers. When organic products/produce is viable, we’ll buy it. We cannot promise that this will always be the case for everything we buy. That said, one reason for initiating this project is so that one day we will never have to set foot inside a supermarket again! So, hop to it! Let’s get growing! The sooner the better!
Our 4 core initiatives are:
1. The cultivation of organic food and produce. But before this can happen, we have a lot of preparation to do!
2. Native forest regeneration. The planting of native plants! Woohoo! There are literally millions of native and endemic seedlings growing on the property that can be eco-sourced from corresponding altitude ranges and spread to the areas of grassland where we want to help kick start the re-gen. We will be doing all of this by hand and feet and your days could be spent frolicking in the forest with me studying plants. If you like the sound of that then you might like it here! I have been studying the work of a well known botanist named Hugh Wilson recently; he has dedicated a significant portion of his life to living here on Banks Peninsula and has pioneered the existence of a huge scenic reserve called Hinewai, pronounced (he-neh-why). This peninsula was once covered almost entirely in old growth forest and today after the intervention of man we see only a small amount remaining. We want to return it to it’s natural state as much as possible, back to the way nature intended! If you have any experience in reforestation projects or knowledge on doing so, please mention in your application as this is something we want to learn more about in order to implement a successful programme.
3. The creation of workshop space for the infinite possibilities of hand craft, art, spiritual practice eg. yoga, meditation, sound healing etc. As a carpenter, I am passionate about making anything of quality. When someone hand makes something they are carefully intertwining a natural hand made aesthetic that is recognisable and truly beautiful. Hand made objects enhance our quality of life. I personally believe in the immense benefits of learning practical skills. For me, I see crafting as a form of meditation. It is calming and nourishing. Old techniques of making tools, tools for working, tools for sewing clothes, throwing pottery, painting, writing, gardening and cooking are just some of the things once fundamental to our existence from days gone by. If you needed something then it was simple. You either traded for it or you had to make it. Not that long ago Amazon.com didn’t exist. We had to take the time in order to get by. Today most of modern society seems hell bent on extinguishing these precious and rewarding skills in favour of the virtual world of cellphones and the internet. I admit, they too have a role to play in this day and age and it would be foolish to completely ignore it. But, as far as I can see, we are drifting away from the preservation of our long and wonderful history of making, creating and living! You know that thing LIVING? Good, I'm glad YOU do, because a lot don't. Distractions such as social media are hammering away on a giant wedge, a wedge that divides and deprives us of our innate urges to kick off our shoes, to spread our toes and feel the earth below, to roll up our sleeves and give something new a go; to experience the reward of accomplishing something you never expected you could do. Here, our aim is to restore that balance.
4. Lastly and most importantly, here is a place to feel safe and be yourself. You can be free to let time and nature heal old wounds and to enable fresh growth. Come and find peace within.
Upcoming and continual projects plus other relevant information include:
(1st September 2019 onwards)
- Gardening, gardening, gardening and oh, did I mention gardening?! The property was once a huge expanse of meandering walk ways, vegetable gardens and chill out spots. It has not been touched for the last 4 years due to certain circumstances. Now moving forward we have the chance to revive this magical place whilst respecting the nature that’s returned. In these beginning stages, gardening and infrastructure will be the core work undertaken for the next months. Once gardens have been set and we begin to harvest food for ourselves and others, other projects will arise to further enrich the diversity of our beautiful home.
- A vast amount of land remediation is needed to enable the reestablishment of food growing gardens. Non-native tree felling, scrub cutting, general clearing. It is demanding and physical work. Please be aware of this fact.
- There is a stunning building called the Garden House that needs some life breathed back in to it. It needs re-roofing and some minor refurbishment. We are not fond in making everything shiny and new. Everything has a rustic characteristic that should be respected. We will try our hardest to source only recycled materials and use what we already have.
- The clearing and thinning of encroaching bush from the perimeter of the house, cottages, studios and workshops to allow air flow and to avoid the build up of damp organic matter.
- General garden maintenance, tending to the garden with love & care. Immerse yourself where you please!
- Help with cooking and preparing meals when needed. We are a heart centred community. Food is of great importance to us. Food enables life! Food preparation and eating time should, when possible, be together.
- We have a lovely old building that long ago was once a piggery. We’re open to ideas and suggestions for what to do here. It seems like a perfect space for seedlings to be nurtured and for the growth of herbs, micro greens or mushrooms. This building needs to be cleared of years of accumulated stuff. Heading forward though, a very exciting blank canvas just waiting for some enthusiastic and loving beings to come and work some magic!
- The construction of composting toilets. Composting toilets are the greenest and also the easiest form of processing our own excrement. With appropriate care, the compost can be used after time as a highly fertile soil regenerator - perfect for gardens. It’s part of a complete cycle. Food comes from the earth with love, we harvest, prepare and consume it with love. We digest it and we excrete it. We then let nature process it with a little help and finally we deliver it back to the land to promote further growth. Pure nature, pure permaculture, pure logic!
- We have many fresh water springs on the land. We are so fortunate to have enormous supplies of fresh, drinkable water. It comes straight out of the ground in many locations. During winter when rain fall is higher, it is important to maintain runoff. This means paying close attention to the drainage systems. Keeping them clear of organic debris to help prevent over flow.
We have a lot of fire wood available here. All of the heating we use is generated by fires and pot bellies. There will be plenty of jobs to do surrounding this including:
- Chainsaw work. Any handling of chainsaws will be strictly monitored for safety purposes.
- Splitting and storing/stacking of fire wood.
- Maintaining of all fire places.
- Keeping wood boxes full.
There are some long term co-creation projects ahead. It’s worth mentioning to inspire the vision for future development.
- The restoration of the old Spa House. To construct a bathing area and sauna room. Ideally we’d like to build our own heating source for these to eliminate electricity usage.
- Building our own off-grid electricity generator through hydrodynamics.
- The converting of one of the barns to a large, open plan workshop, music room and storage space.
- The installation of solar panels for electricity. Russell and I will be working hard so that we can afford to buy some panels. Again, one day we’d like to be off the power grid.
- The construction of some basic shelters for experimentation purposes which can act as basic accomodation. The question being. What can we build in the form of a basic shelter using as many natural and local renewable resources as possible? A tipi? A yurt? Maybe even a geodesic dome? Why not!? Building stuff is fun!
- Walking tracks. Walking tracks with art. A gallery space. I could go on! If you’re an artist or you feel you want to explore this side of yourself. We’d like to hear what you’d like to contribute.
Electronic Technology (Laptops/cellphones):
Yes the mighty machine of electronic technological advancement races on! We on the other hand - albeit recognising the great value of technology and the internet as it allows us to connect in boundless new ways and specifically with you - prefer to keep our usage to a sheer necessity basis. Yes, we have to attend to emails but essentially this is where it ends. There will be no social media profile for our project and nor do we encourage any form of social media usage whilst living or visiting here. This comes from our philosophy on sociability and presence. Living for us means to remain present, present in the very moment without distractions. We believe that real human face to face interaction is a vital part of our day to day development as people and is something that needs to be supported. If we are comfortable and open enough to be ourselves all the time then to share our own experience of the world with the people around us is a truely liberating thing. The conversations can roar on late in to the evening. People laughing, singing, dancing and hugging. People simply sharing, celebrating togetherness and wholeness. And to think, not a single instagram post to prove it!! I mean WOW! How’s that for a crazy concept?! So then, did it really happen? Well, actually, who cares! We were there and we had a great time. The moment was real. There is not going to be a 'No Social Media Rule' per se. We just say, leave it for private time and try to refrain from using mobile phones in social situations. We kindly ask, please, remain present with us. It's respectful and just a hell of a lot more enjoyable for everyone involved! Many thanks!
"I have realised that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is." Alan Watts
The future of community workshops and market days:
It is something to work toward at this stage. Once facilities and systems are in place, the opportunity to host weekend or weeklong workshops on all things wholesome and interesting is great. Environmental teachings, carpentry techniques, permaculture workshops, yoga retreats, meditation weekends, music workshops etc. All of these things hold common ground in the sense that they’re supportive of a healthy lifestyle. One that increases the quality of life for everyone. It’s mutually beneficial for the land and the people that reside there. Let’s collaborate to learn and grow!
I would love to hear from any musicians or anyone that is willing to LET IT ALL GO and JAM! Music rules a large part of my life! I would like to host a weekly or monthly live music jam session to celebrate the lunar phases! Music plays a key role in bringing people together. It is a big part of our life, as is SILENCE but there is a balance to be had! My goal in the not to distant future is to have a big room set up full of instruments for jam sessions. Come and help me make that happen!
A random note that I just thought of:
There are flax plants all over the land that can be - through a process of harvesting and drying - used to make woven goods such as, baskets, floor mats, interior wall coverings, exterior garden screens. I’ll let your imagination run on that one! We have virtually endless supplies of tree timber and a wide variety of species, both soft and hard for wood working and building shelters. Any tree felling will be restricted to non native species and will be done so with respect and careful consideration. We have dozens of medicinal plants growing throughout the property that can be used to produce organic, earth friendly soaps, balms or essential oils. I personally would like to experiment with producing our very own toilet paper. I’ve never done it but we can do it! I’m sure of that. A big part of the vision is to enable people to be free to create and express themselves. Art is one of these ways. You are welcome to come and explore this. Let’s create a place of beauty together! I hope that it will last for many generations to come.
Accomodation & sleeping:
Well, if you're into camping and/or solitude then wow-wee! The possibilities are kind of endless! We have 400,000 square metres. Pick a spot! Choose a view!
We have indoor sleeping options for up to 16 with all the outhouses in full function but that has not been the case for at least 6 years. For now, as this is the first volunteering scheme that's been active here for many years, we're going to keep our volunteer cap at around 4 people whilst we find our feet, so to speak. There is much room for expansion there. We have two double bedrooms with seperate entrances adjoining the main house with basic ensuite (shower, toilet, basin). One of the double rooms has a loft/mezzanine space that could sleep 1 or a cosy 2.
So we can accomodate for 4 singles, or a couple and 2 singles, or 2 couples. I mean, this is a very open place. Sleep with whoever or wherever you want! We don't care! There are also plenty of indoor spaces in more rudimentary spots. And I am talking about proper buildings here, there just might not be a running shower or toilet at the moment.
What to bring:
- A positive attitude and open mind! That’s a given right!
- Good adequate clothing. Depending on what months you plan to visit, it is important to have clothes that can handle the outdoors as the peninsula can have some heavy winter storms bringing snow and hail. Thermal clothing is definitely recommended for the months of May/June/July/August/September. A good pair of sturdy boots or shoes. In summer you may even choose not to wear clothes at all, but this will be up to you!
- Any person requirements e.g, medications or special treatments. Any specific dietary products. There is a pharmacy and medical centre approximately 20 mins away in Akaroa. Anything more serious will require a trip to the neighbouring city of Christchurch. (1hr 40mins drive)
- And lastly, a big smile! How easy! :)
Arrival in Christchurch city. Christchurch has the closest International and Domestic airport. Depending on your arrival date, either Russell or myself might be able to collect you as we usually make 1 trip to the city each week. Alternatively, there are daily bus services running between Christchurch and Akaroa where we can collect you.
When applying, please do so with love and care. Tell us who you are and where your passions lie. Tell us what you’d like to learn! This is after all meant to be a mutually beneficial exchange. We do look forward to hearing from you!
“When a person of morality concentrates, insight awakens. The knots in the depths of the mind are all untied.”
S. N. Goenka
Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei - (That is all for now)
Kia ora rawa atu - (Many Thanks)
Tom & Russell
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Aoetearoa, New Zealand has a old and beautiful indigenous culture known as the Maōri. They travelled here in sea going canoes called 'waka' all the way from Polynesia in the South Pacific Ocean as long as 1000 years ago. Their culture is full of stunning beauty that deserves to be celebrated and better understood by all. I am entering a new realm of learning myself in terms of the history of this fabulous country. You have the opportunity to join me as we dive in to this journey of learning and growth together. There is an abundance of knowledge on the peninsula. There are a lot of eco initiatives starting up that we can all learn from. Networking and sharing this knowledge is key to the overall success of our collective mission - to minimise the impact on the planet and to have fun doing it :)
As covered in main profile:
-all kinds of gardening and planting
-anything of positive contribution
English, learning Te Reo (Māori)
Mixed accomodation. Indoor and outdoor. See main profile for more info.
Where to start! You're in New Zealand!! What do you want to do? It's all here. Situated on Banks Peninsula, you are only 1-2 hours away from soaring mountains ranges, golden sand beaches, natural hot springs, National Parks and the rest goes on... Bordering our property is a Scenic Reserve called Ōtepatotu. You can go hiking and walking until your hearts content.
Rock Climbers, there plenty of routes in the area. We have some climbs that border our land.
Outside of this you have the historic town of Akaroa only 25 minutes drive over the hill. Christchurch City is only 1 hour 40 minutes drive away. There is the ocean and the stunning Le Bons Bay Beach 6 kilometres down the valley road. I am an active outdoors person myself and will be heading away on trips to go hiking and camping most of the year. There are lots of great community based art & music festivals all year long. In summer there are some world class music festivals all within a few hours drive.
Again, it's all up to you! Have fun and enjoy your life. Make the most of every day you have!
Aroha nui (Much love, with deep affection)
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week