On New Years Day 1999 Piglet returned from Karaka Bay to the Hokianga.
Enough temporary accommodation was built in a day to give her a home and slowly over the following years her humble dwelling grew into a palace. At the same time another house, Arakainga, was being built at Te Ohu. As with any self-build project that house led to a much wider involvement in both place and people. A heady mix of kauri conservation and kiwi recovery mingled with the dreams, aspirations, traditions and activities of many different Hokianga communities.
A little more than nine years later, on 11 January 2008, Piglet died and she was buried beside the almost finished Te Ohu house.
This book is a story of life in the Hokianga, the building of Arakainga, and of course, Piglet.
This story is dedicated to
Phil, Pauline, Rhys, Claire, Louise, Ben, Nita, George, Mary and Rita
without whom none of it would have been possible.
Clive and “Boy” were always there when I needed them.
Owner-building has very little in common with building.
Owner-building is a spiritual activity essentially concerned with exploring the meaning of life. As with life it is the journey which is important, not the conclusion. How you go becomes more important than where you go, and you recognise that you will end up somewhere else anyway. In life, as in building, if you know the result before you begin why bother? Owner-building becomes a constant process of discovery. It cannot be rushed. It takes time to come to know a place or a community. It takes time to discover who you are.
As a nation New Zealand’s strength has been our ability to respond to change. Knowing that we are small and at the end of the earth has given us great advantages. Growing better rather than bigger has given us an understanding of how cultures survive. We have been world leaders because we have not been carrying too much baggage. No one can see quite where we are coming from.
Sadly we seem to have forgotten our stories. It is tragic that we have allowed our built environment to become controlled by architects, planners, bureaucrats, inspectors, developers, financial institutions, the building industry, and regulations. The very process of building has become self-defeating. Being alive has ceased to be a possibility.
Without making radical changes in the way we build New Zealand has no future. The death of the built environment is but the first step towards the death of our nation.
Materialism can never be a substitute for mystery. When a house, or any other building, is seen as nothing more than a materialistic object the process of building becomes nothing more than a rather boring, repetitive, technical process, more concerned with control than discovery. When the house is finished the owners, who have not been involved in the making, sit inside, protected from the realities of the natural world, and watch television, filing their minds with the materialism of a consumer society. The house becomes a barrier between human beings and the wonder and awe of a planet bursting with life.
Any owner-builder spends only a small part of their time engaged in the physical act of building. They rather embrace life in all its fullness, and slowly realise that nothing could have prepared them for the wonder of it all.
Pigs seem to understand all these things. Human beings find it difficult. It can be instructive to allow a pig to take us on a journey.
Margaret and Peter Bartlett
Farewell at Motuti for the group going to Eutope
A culvert to provide access.