A permaculture settlement being developed on the Kaipara Harbour in North
"It is a faith in our capacity to develop cultural patterns that will
enable us to maintain the integrity and stability of the natural world".
Edward Goldsmith - "The Way"
Site of Otmatea Eco-Village showing its peninsular position
within the Kaipara harbour
for a larger version)
The Kaipara Harbour is an area which once possessed prodigious kauri
forests and enjoyed a zenith of commercial prosperity and importance as a
link in New Zealand's coastal sea routes prior to the advent of road and
Deep within its huge harbour system, the Otamatea River
is a tranquil place now - except perhaps for a certain stretch of water
which passes by the site of Otamatea Eco-Village, where ten families are
beginning to implement plans, now two years in the making, for a
permaculture settlement on a two hundred and fifty-one acre portion of a
beautiful four-hundred acre peninsula four kilometres west of Kaiwaka.
Resource consents obtained for a new type of land ownership
Last November shareholders in the eco-village celebrated the granting of
resource consents from Kaipara District Council and receipt of main title
on the land with an "Opening Day". This marked the culmination of two
years' negotiations with the Council and the Land Transfer Office, to
develop the land into fifteen five-acre units to be purchased on a "Unit
Title" basis, and the balance of one hundred and seventy-six acres to be
commonly owned. Unit Titles are a form of freehold land ownership which
has become widespread in Australian eco-villages, for example Crystal
Waters, but is a pioneering move in this country.
The Body Corporate Rules, or bylaws, govern issues on our motivating
philosophy, such as permaculture and its inherent values of
self-sustainability, alternative power sources, use of non-toxic building
materials and organic land use practices. This form of freehold land
ownership enables the Body Corporate Rules to become more legally binding
than the usual placing of covenants on titles. These Body Corporate Rules
are written into the purchase agreement and are binding on all members,
protecting alike the units and the one hundred and seventy-six acres of
commonly owned land.
Access road under construction, 1998
These Rules have been evolved over the last two years in fortnightly
meetings run on a consensus basis, a gentler form of decision-making
than the voting system. It diffuses competition and gradually creates a
co-operative dynamic where people can feel safe to air their concerns. At
meetings our agenda has covered writing of the prospectus, our vision
statement, short and long term aims, and co-ordination of any projects
underway. To date these have included ongoing upgrading of the 2.5km
access road, erection of a large glass and shadehouse to propagate the many
thousands of trees needed for reafforestation, upgrading of an existing
barn for temporary accommodation, and venue for meetings and permaculture
courses - down to the inevitable thistle grubbing!
Last March members organised the first two-week permaculture course for
sixteen intending residents and the general public. A second course was
held in March '98. Central to our aims is the building of a community
house which will host courses of many kinds, with an emphasis on
sustainability in a unique ecologically-friendly "hands-on" environment
making learning fun, inspiring as well as teaching. Between Northland and
Auckland, we are well placed to attract participants from a large catchment
The intending Eco-Villagers, Summer 1998
for a larger version)
Dwellings built by residents with a wide range of skills
This year will see building of the first dwellings - a post-and-beam straw
bale house is already under construction and a light-earth home will
follow. Soon the eco-village will have its first inhabitants. The diverse
talents of the ten families involved to date (and a caretaker) will be in
demand. We're fortunate to have an electrician, a permaculture landscape
designer, a veterinarian, an architect, an accountant, builders,
teachers.... a whole pool of expertise and willing hands to draw on.
Otamatea Eco-village is a stimulating collection of possibilities -
environmental, economical, social, technological and spiritual. Our
ongoing task is to weave our unique design from these strands to the best
of our abilities. We aim to achieve a true sense of community while
maintaining a balance between privacy and co-operation.
Reinhold and Lynne taking a rest from a working bee
Visits to the Eco Village
Visitors are welcome, but please contact us first. You may be so
interested that you will want to buy one of the units not sold yet. To
arrange a visit to our eco-village or find out about our permaculture
courses contact one of us.
Lynne ph: (09) 425 9376
fax: (09) 425 9378
Reinhold (mob): 021 655 202
Permaculture Course ph: Sabine (09) 422 7534.