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    People Together...
    Otamatea Eco-Village, Kaiwaka

    Lynne - 2/5/98

    A permaculture settlement being developed on the Kaipara Harbour in North Auckland

    "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
    Site of Otmatea Eco-Village showing its peninsular position within the Kaipara harbour
    (Click here for a larger version)

    The site
    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 railway systems.

    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
    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!

    Permaculture courses
    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 area.

    The intending Eco-Villagers, Summer 1998
    The intending Eco-Villagers, Summer 1998
    (Click here 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.

    The philosophy
    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
    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
    email: otamatea@clear.net.nz
    Reinhold (mob): 021 655 202
    Permaculture Course ph: Sabine (09) 422 7534.



    Published with permission from NZine