Call (+64) 3 304 7654, or Email marie@theseventhgeneration.org

Living into the Wild

For wilderness is not space, but the life force that inhibits that space.

Marie Haley

In 2007, I spent the first of three summers working on Campbell Island, amongst the royal albatross and New Zealand sea lions. They were to be some of the most formative episodes of my life. It was here with the vast expanses of ocean around me that I first felt the freedom experienced by wild animals, and it was like taking a deeper breath than I known was possible. A breath that still manages to fill my soul with a mix of joy and hope. For wilderness is not space, but the life force that inhibits that space.

To live in a place where no humans reside, where animals rule, turns what we know of the world on it’s head. Our daily experiences are defined by interactions with the world that are controlled and measured, we know the weather forecast, we hear the daily news, we can adjust the thermostat to make our environment more comfortable and all of our experiences with animals tend to be with ones that are either domesticated or have habituated to a human modified world.

All in all we control our world so we are safe, and that safety limits our depth of experience of nature. On Campbell Island, we were the odd ones out, there were no tracks, no roads and no vehicles, no internet, not even a weather forecast and whatever news came was weeks too late for it to be new anymore. We had one heated room and spent weeks on end camping right in a sea lion colony or in tiny huts on the exposed headlands surrounded by albatross.

Living in such simplicity gave the mind so much time to slow down, to notice the finest details of life and to expand into poetic daydreams. The abundance of nature was captivating, so that I never felt a moment of boredom (that feeling of reaching for updates on your phone). There were always interactions to watch, penguins coming ashore in their daily commute or albatross gliding in from ten long days at sea, sea lions defending their place in the world or even just little pipit birds working as camp cleaners hoping around our feet for crumbs.

After some time I felt these experiences of freedom and the beauty of nature working their way inside my brain and rewiring my neural pathways so that I know I think differently than I did before. For me it has left me with a lifelong yearning for more wildness, more freedom. For some time I sought it out by moving from place to place, but when I found that wherever I went in this human world, it was not there, I decided to stay home and recreate it for myself in the world around me. I started to plant trees and flowers to bring in the birds closer around me and to slow down and watch the wild species that are actually all around us, that go unnoticed in our speed.

Marie Haley in ESCAPE Magazine: Do it the local way with this epic New Zealand tour

Local connections don’t get more local than Marie Haley, a seventh-generation resident and experienced tour guide in Akaroa, one of New Zealand’s most idyllic ports. The town is so small that Majestic Princess has to tender passengers from ship to shore.

Haley’s fascinating three-hour tour of the coastal community and surrounding farmlands weaves in important Maori cultural sites and history, such as the infamous Te Rauparara massacre that led to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Combining a deep knowledge of Akaroa’s English, French and Maori heritage with her own engaging family history, Haley takes us far from the town’s well-trodden tourist trail.

After morning tea and scones at Heritage Park, with its panoramic views of the vast Akaroa Harbour, we head for Hinewai Reserve and Wildside Conservation Project on blustery Banks Peninsula, where Haley spent much of her childhood.

The soon-to-be mum now lives on a farm in nearby Goughs Bay which she wants to turn into New Zealand’s first designated “quiet farm” where peace and tranquillity reign supreme — a local hero indeed. Tip: Carry rain gear in Akaroa as the weather can turn in an instant.

Fools & Dreamers: Watch the full documentary here!

Fools & Dreamers is a 30-minute documentary telling the story of Hinewai Nature Reserve, on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula, and its kaitiaki/manager of 30 years, botanist Hugh Wilson. We learn about the commitment of Hugh and the Maurice White Native Forest Trust to regenerate marginal, hilly farmland into native forest, using a minimal interference method that allows nature to do the work, giving life to over 1500 hectares of native forest, waterways, and the creatures that live within them. When, in 1987, Hugh let the local community know about his plans to allow gorse to grow as a nurse canopy for self-sown native trees, the response was sceptical at best and outright angry and disparaging for the most part – one farmer stating the plan was the sort to be expected only of “fools and dreamers”. Now considered a local hero by town and country folk alike, Hugh’s home at Hinewai overlooks a valley resplendent in native forest canopy, where birds and other wildlife are abundant and 47 known waterfalls are in permanent flow. An inspiring, charismatic personality, Hugh’s passion and enthusiasm for his life’s project come through in every sentence he speaks. A dreamer who has made his dream come true, Hugh has proven without doubt that nature knows best – and that he is no fool.

The Australian Magazine Writes about Marie Haley and The Seventh Generation Tour Akaroa

Written in the Stars by Jane Nicolls

In the tiny port of Akaroa, Marie Haley recently launched her thoroughly researched history safari tour and it’s now a Local Connections tour. A descendant of the original French settlers, Haley recounts the past, including tales of French and British settlers and Maori warriors, and lays out a vision of a sustainable future. She tells us how those early settlers couldn’t sleep for the racket from the native birds, and tells us about The Wildside Project on the Banks Peninsula and conservationist Hugh Wilson’s private Hinewai Reserve, both of which are bringing back native flora and fauna.

Marie Haley Conservationist – Latitude Magazine – Life on the Wildside, Akaroa

Akaroa Conservationist Marie Haley from The Seventh Generation Tours is featured in this months Latitude Magazine for her role in establishing the Wildside Project and new boutique business venture guiding travellers to a deeper understanding of Akaroa History and Nature. #Akaroa #Wildside #BPCT #TheSevnethGenerationTours

Banks Peninsula Locals Sustainability Story

Watch this video to understand why Banks Peninsula is such a remarkable place!

Local student Marco Varray, 12, has created this winning documentary film in the National Outlook for Someday competition. The film features local characters who tell their story of sustainability, it also captures the unique outlook of this rural community who are passionate about living a sustainable and enjoyable life.

How to Build a Sense of Place

Our understanding of our home and our sense of place is such a vital connection for people’s wellbeing and contentment, I would be honored if I can add to that for both residents and tourists alike.

The more you know about your place of belonging in the world the stronger your connections to community and place can be. This sense of place is one of the greatest sources of meaning to our lives.

It can take many years of observation to fully know the world around you, and your rhythms within it. Over time each place, the stories attached to them and even each tree or rock can start to hold meaning for you, these become your marker pegs as you orientate yourself within space.

As a child I would roam the hills and valleys of our farm, slowly each year I would add new knowledge to my kete (basket). These gems would come from close observations, the time each year the kowhai comes into flower, when it is warm enough for jeweled gecko to be seen, a story told by an Aunty of a memory of my Great-grandmother, little scraps of information from the local newspaper, discussions with friends. And this is how I have built my knowledge of this place. My ambition in life is for that knowledge building to never stop, because this knowledge builds love and a deep connection to this land and the community who shelters here.

This August Seventh Generation will be providing ‘Locals Tours’ especially for residents who may want to add to their kete of knowledge.

Bookings can be made on my website www.theseventhgeneration.co.nz

Akaroa Mail July 2018

 

Danger in the Wilderness

O Te Patatu is a spectacular and sometimes dangerous stepping off point into the wilderness. Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean it is the most Easterly point of Banks Peninsula; a beautiful and temperamental in-between place, where ocean, earth and sky merge.

We made the voyage out to this far point last week to investigate the potential for establishing a predator-free sea bird colony. Submerged reefs drive upwelling of marine nutrients, while ocean currents and weather patterns bring a wide range of seabirds close to shore; often visible are royal albatross, giant petrel, prions and Hutton’s shearwater.

Predators drove the last of the burrowing sea bird species to extinction on this headland. A special place to local Maori, it was once an important kai (food) gathering place and has associated oral legends and waiata (songs). If we can build a fence and remove introduced mammalian predators then the natural ecosystem can be re-established.

After weeks of heavy rain and heavier cloud the land was sodden, my heart was racing when we lost traction in the 4WD eventually needing to fix chains to move forward. Out on the point the wind was freezing and ripped through our tough outer layers, but deep to the south a break in the weather appeared across the ocean. Finally after weeks, weak sun shone through the clouds and pushed the rain north, so that we were able to enjoy a cup of tea from the trucks deck and watch the wilderness from the top of a cliff at the edge of the world.

 

Famous in Akaroa our French Town Crier

Akaroa’s official Town Crier and I went on a heritage tour recently to celebrate our shared French ancestry. Both descendants of Etienne Francois Lelievre and Justine Rose de Malmanche together we visited special places of remembrance, the Britomart Monument on which Etienne’s name is inscribed, the monument of the landing place of the Comte de Paris that bought out the French settlers including both Etienne and Justine and the ‘family seat’.

It was a memorable day exploring our heritage together.

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