The Rongolian Star: Issue No. 5 April 2011

The Rongolian Star:

(Issue No. 5  April 2011)

Published by Royal Decree since 1878
Rongo Backpackers 

130 Waverley Street

Karamea, 7864

West Coast

South Island



Ph: 037826667

Off the Top of My Head:

Scientists/Capitalists vs Permaculturalists/Socialists

By Paul Murray


In the yin-yang duality of all things, ideological divides exist in the thinking of the future of food production. Significant challenges are ahead as the world population continues to grow exponentially toward nine billion mouths to feed three times a day. Many reports demonstrate that human demand for food and other natural resources already exceed the Earth’s ability to meet that demand by a large margin and that we are rapidly depleting the very essence of what sustains our existence.

Scientists love a good challenge and scientific thought is to utilise technology to produce more food through better plant nutrition, pesticides, plant and animal breeding and most controversially, genetic modification. They say, OK, the world population is growing, we need to provide food to feed future people with futuristic thinking…genetic modification can be shown to increase crop yields, prevent disease, exclude pests and improve shelf life of food. They argue that pursuing a scientific solution and applying GM technology today to food production to meet the needs of future generations can avoid catastrophic food shortages. To ensure availability of food to feed the population is a basic requirement of any government and in the Capitalist/Democratic society we have developed, whereby government and industry work together to achieve such targets, it is of little surprise that we now see significant political support for the application of GM technology in agriculture.

While corporations may have the ear of government, significant opposition exists among thinking people worldwide to the application of GM technology to food production and introducing genetically modified plants ands animals into the natural systems that have been sustaining us forever. Many examples exist of the corruption of natural reproduction processes, pollination etc when GM crop plants have been grown adjacent to natural crops and the reaction of the corporations advocating GM technology has been extremely aggressive toward traditional farmers whose crops have been corrupted by the natural disbursement of GM material into their crops…most famously, the litigation of farmer Percy Schmeiser in Bruno, Saskatchewan Canada pursued by Monsanto when pollen from the corporation’s “round-up ready” GM canola (trademarked as the property of Monsanto) corrupted his non-GM crop. (Read more at: Monsanto vs Farmers:

Canadian Farmer: Percy Schmeiser

More recently, organic farmers have taken the corporations on with a preemptive strike against GM material: Read more at: (Farmers vs Monsanto:

Organic Farmers vs Monsanto

There are always many solutions to a problem and the scientific approach involves the acceptance of a lower quality product if it is to be produced in sufficient quantity to meet consumer demand. Quantity over Quality is the simplest analogy…to meet the needs of the world’s stomachs, an acceptance that food quality must be compromised in order to produce sufficient amounts of food to sustain the rapidly growing world population. However, a reduction in quality also means a reduction in life quality, or the standard of living.

QUANTITY/QUALITY==>Diminished Standard of Living

However, while corporate farming can produce large amounts of low quality food, it is at great cost, much fuel is required to produce and transport food to markets, refrigeration, packaging, electricity etc, etc means the real cost of the food in terms of environmental depletion and resource consumption is left off the balance sheet.

Depletion of soil nutrition, erosion of soil, pollution of rivers, air and sea with chemical and inorganic fertiliser runoff is an environmental cost of corporate farming that is rarely considered or even mentioned in mainstream media, and the preservatives, flavour enhancers, emulsifiers, nutritive additives, processing etc, etc necessarily added to such produce to present it to the consumer results in a product that is unnatural, not satisfactory for the maintenance of human health and well being and leads to other problems that we are seeing increasingly in Western industrialised nations; obesity, diabetes, cancer etc, etc. Ahhhh…but scientists and corporations have the answer to that as well…develop pharmaceutical solutions, better drugs to counteract the diseases and ailments that result from poor diet…”HURRAH!” they all say because such product development creates demand for new products, new services and funds new research and development…a perfect Capitalistic cycle…supply rises to meet demand and demand drives supply…economics 101.


Permaculturalists take a contrary position on the subject of food production and indeed to the utilisation of the Earth’s finite resources. Observation and the subsequent determination of the potential of natural systems to produce an abundance of food in a way that is perpetual is what permaculture is all about. The focus is on sustainable food production, minimal energy use, maintenance of soil, water and air, utilisation of natural energy systems; wind, water and sun, consuming less food of greater quality, eradicating waste, recycling nutrients, reusing, replenishing, restoring, replanting, rejuvenating etc, etc.

Permaculture champion and radical comedian Bill Mollison advocates cannibalism as a solution to world hunger…he also suggests that all religious devotees and ineffective corporate aid workers be composted, which would certainly provide a large amount of fertiliser for food production and while Mr. Mollison is a rascal, in many ways his humorous postulations may in fact be prophecy, for hungry people will resort to drastic measures to meet their belly pangs. A significant reduction in world population is one solution to reducing the demand on world resources to a sustainable level, but that seems unlikely given the nature of humans, religion…go forth and propagate…and the Capitalist system, which feeds on demand. Mr. Mollison will be proven correct in the event of environmental degradation and a significant hunger situation; man will eat his fellow man in order to survive. Such a dystopian future may be inevitable unless the challenge of food production and resource consumption is resolved.

Permaculture solutions involve producing food in situ for local consumers, meeting the food needs of the local population, but also addresses other requirements such as housing, social structures, community development, skill sharing etc, etc. Put simply, permaculture emphasises quality over quantity, more nutritious, organic, enzymatically rich, fresh food, smaller, warmer homes, cooperative communities, efficient supply systems, minimal waste, environmentally responsible living…sustainability.

QUALITY/QUANTITY==>Heightened Standard of Living

New Zealand could be the Norway of the South Pacific:

With our small population, availability of natural resources, fertile agricultural land, good climate, rainfall etc, GodZone should have the world’s highest quality of life/standard of living. Life in New Zealand should be the envy of the world, we should have the best quality food, cleanest water, freshest air, healthiest people, happiest communities plenty of energy, and beautifully balanced, diverse and vibrant environment. Our oceans should have an abundance of fish, our forests dense and our flora and fauna diverse, rivers free flowing and abundant with aquatic life…Kiwi’s should have plentiful, top quality food at low price and instead of sacrificing what we have to grow top quality primary agricultural produce that is exported to distant markets in return for bottom dollar prices, let’s keep the best here and invite people to come and visit to savour the best in the world. Kiwi’s should demand quality over quantity instead of selling out future for a pittance and in the process, improve out standard of living to a level that is the envy of the world…because Kiwi’s deserve the very best! Whatever lies ahead, be it organic utopia or chemical dystopia, I hope both sides remember that in any yin-yang situation there is a little of one side in the other…common ground is the starting point for resolution and in this debate, the common ground is that there is a need to feed.

(Paul Murray has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree and a Permaculture Design Certificate. If he’d known about permaculture before he’d gone to university, he wouldn’t have bothered with the science degree, which was in fact a business course designed to teach students how to maximise profit from a given area of land. Permaculture teaches how to maximise food production from a given area of land forever…which he considers to be a better approach).

Kristin Mukrit

Message in a Bottle

Human dynamo and Rongo Artist in Residence for February/March Kristin Mukrit from Al Capones home  town Chicago, Illinois injected Rongo with some art nouveau that really wowed many people!

The Rongo Peace Garden has seen the installation of the Message In A Bottle sculpture which involves Rongo guests inscribing personal messages on specially charrred paper for authenticity, which will be sealed in the bottles. These messages will be sealed until the first full moon after Judgement Day.

Kristin had to go into overdrive to consume sufficient bottles of wine to make up any shortfall for the project and indeed was so motivated by this she started on the bottle collection for the next installation next year straight away. The Message in a Bottle project was completed. While in Chicago Kritsin will work hard to consume at leat three bottles of wine per day to set a solid foundation for the next project. Message in a Jeroboam! Salut! Prost! Skol!

Blue Boy / Red Boy

Kristin’s first installation is a profile of her as a little girl and incidentally the spitting image of my daughter Shannon when she was 8 years of age. Proceeding from the little girls mouth is a speech bubble in a rainbow trail of stamps from New Zealand and around the world.

The New Zealand stamps in particular are a living history of the development of New Zealand as a nation!

Anzac stamps from Post WWI, Health stamps from the 1930’s, sport stamps from the 60’s, Air Mail stamps from the 1930’s depiciting the biplanes that serviced New Zealand’s airmail postal routes Many of our geriatric age visitors were enthralled by this installation with many saying the stamps of yesteryear brought back siginifcant memories! An instant cure for Alzheimers!

Kristin Mikrut 2011 Rongo Resident Artist

Button Up!

Anybody who walked thru the doors at Rongo was requested (nicely, but usually bribed with a spider!) to donate one button to the collection as well e-mail address. In exchange Kristin personally sewed on many buttons on peoples clothing as part of her rehab programme! Kristin had to go into overdrive to consume sufficient bottles of wine to make up any shortfall and indeed was so motivated by this she started on the bottle collection for the next installation next year straight away. The Message in a Bottle project was completed. While in Chicago Kritsin will work hard to consume at leat three bottles of wine per day to set a solid foundation for the next project. Message in a Jeroboam!

Poetry Alive

Sunday nights at Rongo have now become a night of flamenco passion, poetry, song, dance personal cogitations!

Poetry Alive was a concept for Radio Karamea that motivated people to get involved. Svenja singing Buffalo Jim, Kristin with her angelic singing voice rapping to the rhythm!!

Yannick, Bilbo Baggens Bazooka, Myrthe, Claire et Mimi all contributed to some spectacular , informative, culturally sensitive and righteously exciting entertainment!

Bericht eines WWOOFERS (article of a WWOOFER )

By Max Fuchs

Die Rongo Crew hat mich gebeten  einen kleinen und hoffentlich feinen Artikel zu schreiben. Ueber mich meine Vergangenheit und natuerlich Rongo.

Ich bin Max und komme aus Berlin. Ich hab die letzten 6 Monate mit Reisen verbracht und bin dabei fuer 3,5 Monate nach Indien und nach einem kleinen Zwischenstopp in Malaysia weiter fuer nochmals 3,5 Monate nach Neuseeland.

Angefangen hat meine “Weltreiseidee”  eigentlich schon sehr freuh, als meine grosse Schwester mir von ihren weltenbummler Erfahrungen berichtete. Also war klar, nach dem Abi, dass ich mehr schlecht als recht uberlebt hab, gehts weg,  weit weg. Ich wollte schon immer nach Neuseeland, aber dachte dass das alleine vlt. etwas langweilig werden koennte, also beschloss ich, irgendwie muss noch was Spirituelles mit rein und schwups war die Idee von Indien aufm Plan. Nicht nur dass es etwas ganz Anderes als Neuseeland werden wuerde,  sondern auch noch genau auf der Flugroute Richtung NZ liegt.

Im Flieger, kurz vorm Anflug auf Delhi, wurde mir dann das erste Mal bewusst, dass das vlt. nicht nur Zuckerschlecken wird. Genau dass hat sich dann auch am Flughafen von Delhi bestaetigt, als  man mich so ziemlich bei der ersten Gelegenheit erstmal um nen paar Euros gebracht hatt( klingt wenig ist in Indien aber ne ganze Menge). Dann gings los in die wohl turbolenteste Stadt die ich in meinem Leben bisher gesehen hatte und womoeglich sehen werde. Alles war irgendwie anders,  lebendiger, schmutziger  und ich hab mich gefragt wie das alles funktionieren kann. Spaeter als ich laengst aus Delhi gefluechtet bin und meinen Weg ueber Nordindien und Rajastahn nach Calcutta gemacht hatte, wurde mir klar, dass es fuer die Inder ganz normal ist. Ich muss offen gestehen dass ich doch immer wieder mit der Kultur und den Sitten der Indischen Bevoelkerung  angeeckt bin und am Ende doch etwas froh war, nach dreieinhalb Monaten interessanten Reisens in Indien, weiter in westlichere Kulturen zu fliegen.

Nach kurzem Aufenthalt in Malaisia , einem Land das irgendwie zwischen arm und reich steht, und in dem ich das erste Mal mit einem richtigen Monsungewitter konfrontiert wurde, gings weiter nach Auckland. Dort hat mich mein erster Couchsurferhost  Janson herzlich willkommen gehiessen. Nach einigen Tagen machte ich mich auf meine ersten hitchhikeerfahrungen zu sammeln und diese sollten einige werden in den naechsten zwei Monaten.  Doch nach ca. 6 Monaten traveln und davon 2 in Neuseeland wurde mir bewusst, dass ich keine Lust mehr hatte auf staendiges Rumgerase von einem Ort zum naechsten und ich hielt Ausschau nach einem wwoofing Platz. Dieser bot sich dann im Rongo, dem Platz an dem ich eigentlich nur 1 Nacht bleiben wollte aber gemerkt habe, dass hier irgedetwas besonders ist, und es sich lohnt laenger zu bleiben.

Also findg ich an zu arbeiten, wobei ich zugeben muss, dass meine Einstellung gegenueber Arbeit nicht immer Deckungsgleich mit der von Paul oder anderen Woofern war. Aber genau dieser Umstand hat mir viel zu denken gegeben und ich glaube dass ich genau in diesem Punkt das Meiste mitnehmen werde. Andererseits konnte ich hier wunderbar meine Batterien wieder aufladen und hab unmengen interessanter, netter und manchmal auch komischer Leute getroffen, kurzum ein Platz an dem sich viele Bunte Menschen zusammenfinden. Nach einem Monat mit viel Spass werd ich mich langsam trennen von diesem magischen Platz und dann geht es auch bald weiter nach Hongkong und zurueck nach Hause. Ich hoffe mein Artikel laesst traveller die schon wieder zu hause sind, etwas in Gedanken schwelgen und gibt denen einen Vorgeschnmack, die bald unterwegs sind.

1000 Cranes

Mimi "Bubbles" Bordes

Recycling New Zealand’s Womens Weeklys that no-one wanted to read in the first place meant that Rongo was desperately short of weed mulch and ground cover = Platyhelminthe BSC Hons.

The idea for installing 1000 cranes is now a Japanese tradition.

A thousand paper cranes are traditionally given as a wedding gift by the folder, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. They can also be gifted to a new baby for long life and good luck. Hanging a Senbazuru in one’s home is thought to be a powerfully lucky and benevolent charm.

Sets of origami paper are sold widely in Japan, with Senbazuru sets including 1000 (or more, in case of mistakes) sheets of paper, string, and beads to place at the end of each string to prevent the cranes slipping off.[1] Commonly the cranes are assembled as 25 strings of 40 cranes each.[1] The size of the origami paper does not matter when assembling a thousand paper cranes, but smaller sheets consequently yield smaller and lighter strings of cranes. The most popular size for Senbazuru cranes is 75 by 75 millimetres (3.0 × 3.0 in). Some people cut their own squares of paper from anything available, such as magazines.

Origami paper used for Senbazuru is usually of a solid color, though printed designs are also available. Larger size origami paper, usually 6×6 inches, often has traditional Japanese or flower designs, reminiscent of kimono patterns.

The Thousand Origami Cranes has become a symbol of world peace[citation needed] through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who tried to stave off her death from leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II by making one thousand origami cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed and buried them all with her. (This is only one version of the story. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum states that she did, in fact, complete the 1,000 cranes.)

Her story is told in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Several temples, including some in Tokyo and Hiroshima, have eternal flames for World Peace. At these temples, school groups or individuals often donate Senbazuru to add to the prayer for peace. The cranes are left exposed to the elements, slowly dissolving and becoming tattered as the wish is released. In this way they are related to the prayer flags of India and Tibet.

In Western countries, the custom has been extended from giving a senbazuru to cancer patients, to using them at funerals or on the grave.

Ultimate Frisbee Comes To Rongo

By Zoe Elkin

Where I come from, the small collage town of Amherst Massachusetts USA, Ultimate Frisbee is no joking matter. It is no casual tossing of the Frisbee on the beach or in the park, but the type with a set field, rules, teams, and final score.  The e town boasts of being one of the best Ultimate Frisbee programs in the country, and my former high school team ranks second in the nation. We joke that kids learn to walk, and then how to properly grip a Frisbee.

Every spring and summer, it is not uncommon for there to be games held almost every night of the week for all ages and abilities. It is a big deal to be a player. Under the football lights, crowds of hundreds gather to watch as incredibly fit athletes battle their rivals from across the nation. It is not just in my hometown that this sport has taken by the neck, it is growing to be an international phenomenon. I found this to be true while traveling in Central America. One the outskirts of Antigua Guatemala, believe it or not, there is a Sunday Ultimate Frisbee club. Across America, it has emerged as a popular sport in universities. Every year hundreds of new teams emerge on the scene, proof enough that this sport is really taking off.

Last Sunday, nine Rongolians, guests and locals alike met at the park to learn this crazy new type of Frisbee. We started with some basic throwing of the disk and then moved on to explain the rules of the game. There are no referees in Ultimate Frisbee. One might ask, how can this be? It is the responsibility of the players on the field to call the shots. Every single player is held at high regard and is expected to play hard and play fair. The Spirit of the Game is what it is called.

At tournament the most honored award is that of the Spirit of the Game, which goes to the team (awarded by the votes from the other competing teams) who plays hard, makes smart and honest calls, and embodies what it means to be a great competitor.  The playing field is roughly the size of a soccer field and there are fourteen people on the field at once, seven on a side. In order to score you must catch the Frisbee (also referred to as the disc) in your end zone. There are two end zones for each team located at each end of the field. You cannot run with the disc so it must be passed to a teammate in order to move the disc down the field into the end zone. If the disc is dropped it is a turnover, and is now in the other teams possession. On defense, you must guard someone on offense in order to prevent the pass from being thrown to them.

There are many types of offenses and defenses, but we stuck to the most basic, man on man (or woman on woman).  Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport, and involves as much running (or more) than a game of soccer. All you need to play is a good disc, a field, and most importantly, a group of people who want to learn.  It’s no wonder it is so quickly spreading! Everyone who came picked it up quickly and it was all great fun. Max, a wwoofer here at Rongo, after the game said, “That was actually awesome! I had no idea Frisbee could be so intense and fun.” I think he speaks for everyone who gave it a try that cloudy Sunday afternoon, Ultimate Frisbee is great fun.

(For more information on the sport, and what’s going on in the Ultimate Frisbee world go to: WWW.UPA.ORG)

Mountain Biking

Recalcitrant MTBer Matt Ridgeway

As of May 1st 2011 The Department of Conservation Is opening up the Heaphy Track to Mountian Bikers. A good 2-3 day ride would enable any fit healthy mountain biker to stay at the Heaphy Hut, Mckay Hut, Perry Saddle Hut and enjoy the spectacular on the track.

Swimming and fishing at Heaphy Hut, Lewis Hut and Brown Hut. Sensational photography at McKay Hut and the Giant Spotted Kiwi at the Gouland Downs Hut.

Essential to jump in the mountain spa at the Perry Saddle Hut!! This invigorating alpine stream spa maintains a comfortable bathing temperature all year round!!

Rongo is intsalling a 10 bay bike stand and will be equipped with a bike repair box with the necessary tools you may need
to  maintain your bike!

The ideal would be take a tent and camp out where permissable and enjoy the stars and the teeming melodious birdlife!!

MTB the Heaphy Track from May 1 to September 30

The Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” is now open to mountain bikers from May 1 to September 30 for a three-year trial period staring in 2011 and is set to also become a Great Ride for people of all ages.
The Heaphy Track offers the only multi-day cycle course through a national park in New Zealand. The track is 82 kilometres long and traverses the Kahurangi National Park from Collingwood in the north of the South Island to Karamea on the West Coast.
The track is well-formed all-weather track and has seven well-appointed Department of Conservation huts along the way. The huts are warm, dry and comfortable with bunk beds, wood-fired heaters, rainwater tanks, toilets and five have gas-cooking facilities. All rivers and major streams along the track have suspension bridges, but there may be some small creeks and watercourses that will require fording, please take care when crossing the bridges and water crossings. It is necessary to book huts, to do so, please visit the DOC Heaphy Track Web site ( or regional i-Sites or visitor centres.
Along the way, riders and trampers pass through a diverse range of spectacular scenery from lush beech forest up to 950 metres to Perry Saddle Hut, through the expansive tussock plains of the Gouland Downs and down again along the Heaphy River and on to the stunning nikau palm groves where the West Coast meets the roaring Tasman Sea.
Riders should be well prepared for inclement weather conditions as the region is known for sudden storms, associated floods, occasional snow falls and strong winds, as well as for sunshine, clear blue skies and warm, calm days. Please carry wet weather gear and warm clothing as well as sun protection, first-aid kits, plenty of water, food supplies as well as spare parts, puncture repair kits etc. Be prepared for all eventualities, as it is a long way from the middle of the track if help is required and it is important that riders take responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing.
Most trampers travel from the Collingwood end and finish the track in Karamea and riders will likely do the same, but there is no rule as to which way the track is travelled. Several transport services can deliver riders to the beginning of the track from Collingwood and then from the Kohaihai Shelter at the end of the track to Karamea where a hot showers, cold beer, great food and a comfortable beds await riders and trampers alike after conquering the Heaphy.
The Heaphy Track will be a dual-use facility open to both mountain bikers and trampers during the winter months, so please respect the rights of each group to utilise the track and enjoy the facilities, experience and adventure. Please refer to the Mountain Bikers Code below:

***Mountain Biking Article Published in The Press in May 2009***


Mountain Biking in the Kahurangi National Park
Debate is raging in the Northern Buller about whether to allow mountain biking in the Kahurangi National Park and Oparara Basin.  

By Paul Murray

West Coast tourism operators from Karamea to Haast are seeking ways of increasing visitor numbers to their respective regions by improving the service and facilities they offer and by creating activities for people to enjoy while they are on the Coast. In Karamea, debate is raging over whether to allow mountain bikers to ride the new Fenian/Oparara Loop Track…Karamea tourism operators are saying “yes please,” while the Oparara Valley Trust, which built the track, is saying “no.”

Mountain biking is a low impact sport that is attracting increasing numbers of people from all age groups.A sport that keeps them fit, relieves stress and satisfies their need for adventure and physical exertion.For many it’s an ideal family activity.It is also highly suited to people with injuries, damaged joints and knees, arthritis and many other medical conditions that make it difficult for them to participate in other outdoor activities.

Mountain biking is also becoming increasingly integral to the growth of adventure and eco-tourism with tourism having changed significantly over the past 20 years.

Take backpacking, for example.It used to be about…well, backpacking.Backpackers arrived on a quest for adventure and experience with a basic kit, an edition of Lonely Planet, and a few dollars for essential items.

They hitchhiked, took public transport, or walked to their next destination.Today’s, “backpackers” communicate through networking sites like facebook, twitter, bebo and many have their own blogs.They still hitchhike, walk or use public transport.But increasing numbers arrive in rental cars with laptops, fishing rods, chilly bins, i-Pods, cell phones, suitcases…and mountain bikes.They are the sons and daughters of the most affluent people in the world; well educated and financially flush with a strong interest in adventure sports and eco-tourism.Perhaps the only similarity this generation of young traveller has to the last is the quest for adventure and experience.

For many of this new generation of“backpackers,” mountain biking is the new tramping and biking bush tracks is an integral part of their adventure tourism experience.

New Zealand is a fabulous eco-tourism destination and large numbers of tourists have a strong interest in ecological issues such as carbon emissions and carbon miles, which is a looming threat to the tourism industry).Mountain biking is an excellent example of how we can provide activities for travellers that address these interests and concerns.

Mountain biking does not involve the use of fossil fuels, helps offset carbon miles and can contribute to the New Zealand Government’s publicly announced goal of being the first carbon-neutral country in the world.It can do all of this while offeringrewarding, fun, active and adventurous pursuits that enable overseas visitors, domestic tourists, and locals, to experience the natural wonders of our stunning landscapes and national parks.

So, what should we be doing?Clearly, discouraging mountain biking on bush tracks is counterproductive to development of the tourism on the Coast and here in Karamea.

Tourism operators and the industry in general, in concert with key stakeholders such as the Department of Conservation and bodies such as the Oparara Valley Trust need to develop and implement programs that open up even more of our unique bush tracks to mountain bikers.Disparaging and over-restricting these types of activities simply demonstrates an inability to respond flexibly to a changing world and the changing needs of our tourists and local communities.

On a more parochial note, at the local level here in Karamea it would be extremely helpful if the Oparara Valley Trust reconsidered its position on the Fenian/Oparara Valley Trust track and any other tracks under its control that it considers unsuitable for mountain biking.

Tracks such as the Fenian/Oparara Valley Trust track are wonderful facilities for which the members of the Trust are rightly given much credit.The tracks have fabulous potential for providing mountain bikers with genuine, low carbon emission, challenging, adventurous and fun activities.Opening up the Fenian//Oparara Valley Trust track to mountain biking would be a great help to Karamea tourism operators, shop owners, hotels, restaurants and accommodation providers and a boon for the local economy.

If as the Trust claims, the Fenian/Oparara Valley Trust Track is unsuitable for mountain biking, I’m sure this was simply an oversight by the Trust during the initial planning stages.One that I am sure can be rectified if there is goodwill on the part of all of the stakeholders involved for the good of Karamea and the West Coast tourism industry.

(Paul Murray owns and operates Rongo Backpackers and Karamea Farm Baches in Karamea, is on the Tai Poutini Eco-Tourism Programme Advisory Committee and is a keen mountain biker).


Mountain Biking the Fenian/Oparara Loop Track


***Letter to the Editor Published in the Westport News in May 2009 by Michael Reeves***

DJ Reevso

To the Editor.

The recent discussions concerning mountain biking in the Karamea area are

interesting. I would like to add a mountain bikers perspective to the debate.

Let’s start with K Road. Last year it was reviewed in one of NZ’s leading

MTB magazines as being the worst MTB track in NZ. The reason, it is just a

bunch of old logging roads with no single track. I have

ridden there and would agree, nice scenery but who ever set this area

aside has obviously never ridden a mountain bike.

I have however visited the new Fenian track, currently specified as a

walking track. Looking at it through a mountain biker’s eyes it

has great potential. I understand why walkers do not want to be run over

by a fast moving mountain bike, however walkers and bikers can coexist

and do so. Take the Port Hills near Christchurch which has shared as

well as specific tacks for riders and walkers.  I would suggest some

modifications to the steeper downhill bits to avoid heavy braking

which may lead to rutting of the track, and perhaps some alternative MTB and walking

sections in the narrower sections of the track. Alternatively give bikers

access between peak walking periods, even impose a fee to contribute to

track maintenance, but don’t for the sake of Karamea’s local economy

shun this source of income. Come on guys think outside of the square!

NZ is one of the best places in the world to ride mountain bikes, and

Karamea is at the top of the pile given the area’s scenery, climate

and topography, but ironically the area does not promote the activity,

in fact the local authorities seem to actively discourage it. The

typical rider has never been a crazed yahoo hell bent on tearing up

the native bush, but a person with an active life style, has money to

spend and wants to experience the thrill of riding through NZ’s

beautiful bush. It is a low impact, quiet sport. Riders are typically

respectful of other people and the trails they ride.

I am 44, have three kids and as Freddy Mercury sang, I like to ride my

bicycle. Come on Karamea, it is 2009, there are thousands of riders

who would love to spend time in your beautiful town, put together a

working party and develop a strategy to attract riders, you won’t

regret it. I put money on it that the local councillors will be the

first to slip on a helmet and wile away a few hours riding some sweet

local trails. At least your kids will thank you!

Kind Regards

Michael Reeves

St Albans




***From Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides 7th Edition By Simao, Jonathan and Paul Kennett***
“The bible of where to ride.” Jeff Brass, New Zealand Herald.

K Road: Rating Thumbs Down (no stars…no way we’d be back for these duds)

110 km north of Westport
Grade 4, 1-2 hours, 6 km
Ironically, this is the only mountain bike track that’s been officially opened by a New Zealand Prime Minister. The Right Honourable could have hardly picked a worse one!
Route Description: Loads of dosh have been poured into providing toilet, a car park, a map board and promotion. Only one thing is missing––a good mountain bike track. Instead, after hours of driving, you get to ride a steep, grovelly, dead-end forestry road. In an area renowned for outstanding scenery, this ride has virtually none. It’s logged-over, weed-infested landscape that might look good in decades, but the steep forestry road will still make it ‘K” for krap.
Track Conditions: 100% boring forestry road
Notes: The one consolation is that, for just a few more kilometres of driving, you can walk to the Oparara Arch. Pity it’s not rideable, but scenery is impressive.

Rongo Mondays

Sparrow Fart : Tra la la la!!

7:00 am           Put on fire

7:11 am           Light fire!

7:21 am           Get fire started!

7:38 am           Pour a four and half of diesel down chimney from roof!

7:42 am Run to farm baches for conditioning, fitness and survival!!

7: 45 am Ring Rongo! Get Max to light the fire!

8:00 am Ring Rongo!! Max “ Please light the fire!”

8 :00::04 am KABOOM!!!!!!!

8:00:04:01 am DJ Pukeko gets to room with new French wwoofer!!! OO la la!!

9:00 am Meeting in new Rongo bomb shelter!!! Free Water!!!

9:00:01 Roll Call: William?? Oui!! Claire?? Oui Aussi!!

Lisa??? Ya Mein Herr!! Zoe?? You betcha dude!!
DJ Pukeko?? DJ Pukeko??? Absent!! Max ?? Max ?? Absent!!

9:00:01 DJ Pukeko “Da ya tam!” “Where is Max??” “Que???”

9:15:00:00 am WORK!!!!!

9:15:00:00:01 Put tools away!! Double check!!

9:15:00:15 am Morning tea. Max’s home made cheese and onion bread!!!MMMM!! Yummy!

Elevenses : Game of Chess. Max Memorial Trophy up for grabs!

Free water – Brians shout!!!

Lunch : Three Hour Executive Lunch

Free water : Paul’s shout!!!

4 pm Collect firewood for new indoor BBQ pit!

Water rationing after 4 pm!!! Honesty box for wwoofers installed with security camera and secret microphone to tape praise and worship of El Presidente for such an ecologicallly motivated gesture! Wwoofer honesty box for water only takes $20 notes! Arf Arf!!

4:01:01 pm PUB!!!  Free Water!! DJ Pukeko’s Shout!!!

4:10:02 pm PUB Crawl!!

4:20:15 pm Last Resort: Free water!! Paul in really generous mood today!! My shout!! Let’s drink the bar dry!!

4:44:11 Saracens Bush Lounge: Dan’s specialty Fish Soup!!

4:55:15 Rongolians suffering from Hyponaetremia!!!

7:00 pm Monday Pot Luck Dinner : Roast Taniwha, Rangonui Ragoo – All of Max’s food thrown into big pot and boiled for three hours!! Wash down with Max’s spare beers!!

8:00 pm Huge Man Hunt for Max!!!

8:00:05 pm DJ Pukeko!! “ I’m first in the fire bath!!

11:35:35 Search for Max scaled down by Police and Search and Rescue!!  Search to recommence next week weather permitting!!!!

11:45:45 Dans la salle de chambre!! Mmmm!! La perfum de pall mall!!!

DJ Pukeko! “Ah Mademoiselle!! Quel grandes dentes que tu as!! Ah Mademoiselle quel grandes pieds and demains que tu as!!



Trampers in the wild and even elderly people at home can get hyptothermic. Karamea has a sub tropical climate but the combination of wet, wind and cold can produce hypothermia within 30 minutes!

To determine whether a person has hypothermia it is important to take a body temperature reading. A reading below 35C , then the person most likely has hypothermia.


  1. Prevent further heat loss.
  2. Rest for 48 hours
  3. Gradual warm

After vigorous exercise put on warm clothes.
Symptoms – Shivering, muscles and skin feels cold. Reduced blood flow makes skin pale bluish. Early signs of hypothermia mlook like fatigue!

The type of person who is most at risk of getting hypothermia is someone who has walked too far, carried too heavy a load, unfit, hungry, demoralised. Especially watch childrenwhen they come out after a swim even from heated pools!

Wear a hat preferably fur lined and water proof.

Wet and Wind = 90% loss of insulation.

Warm up gradually with vigorous body rub and also get into sleeping bag in tent and let your body temperature warm the person up. And hey remember to wear a prophylactic!!!

Interview with Moo

SuperMoo the Karamea WonderDog

DJ Pukeko : Good afternoon young man. I would like just to extend the gratitude of the management, publishers, readers and reporting staff of The Rongolian Star for such an elevated celebrity giving the Free World a unique insight into the dynamic world of a Super Dog Wonder Star!

SuperMoo : G’daymateowyagoin’orright?

DJ Pukeko: Upon my word you have a rather broad Ocker accent

SuperMoo : Bloody oath!

DJ Pukeko : So tell the readers how you managed to master the English language with such elan, panache and cultured elocution!

Super Moo : Keeping me ears open sport! I can swear like a trooper in Ocker and Japanese!!!

DJ Pukeko : This is a family publication and I would rather not subject the readers to …..

Super Moo : #@@&*%%$#@!!!!

DJ Pukeko : I do not believe the Pope does anything of the sort!!

SuperMoo : Yeah cobba ah pour us a Schooner of Bundaberg Rum mate!!

DJ Pukeko : What are you going to do with it??


DJ Pukeko : Are you relaxed now and ready for our interview?

SuperMoo : Our interview?? My interview schnozzer!!

DJ Pukeko : Ow!!! Schwein hundt!! Did you have to bite me on the leg!!

SuperMoo : I’m a wild wolf bred on hunting my prey for survival and man you taste like a big muffin! YUK!!

DJ Pukeko : Panty Droppers my speciality!!

SuperMoo : GGGRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DJ Pukeko : Scary!! What was that for!!

SuperMoo : The Call of the Wild! The chicky babes love it!! Arf Arf!

DJ Pukeko : You are such a celebrity! Your own Face Book Page with over 200 friends and you had 11 birthdays last year!! Man look at all these hot babes slobbering all over you!! WOWW!

So where do I begin?

SuperMoo : So tell the readers about me being Player of the Day at Russian Rules. Never subbed off and scored 3 ah scintillating tries!!

DJ Pukeko : You only scored one try!!


DJ Pukeko : Ok Ok 3 tries and well executed every one of them.

SuperMoo : You know cobba I’m the only dog in Karamea wih enough BALLS!!! to jump off the Karamea Bridge!! Have you made the leap of faith DJ Pookuckoo???

DJ Pookuckoo : Well ah …spiritually ah …yes!!

SuperMoo : You Big Fat Girls Blouse! What a Nancy!!

DJ Pookuckoo : I’m not fat!!! I’m not!

Art Exhibition:

Norma Burrowes’ Karamea Kaleidoscopes and Paul Murray’s ArtofNature:

Space Between: Norma Burrowes

I am inspired by life’s quiet moments, those moments of being, masked as we busily continue our day. I create images which connect us to the feelings and perceptions that fill the spaces between our daily interactions with each other, revealing the being behind the doing. With my camera, I combine photographic elements to reveal this extraordinary nature, to create my own truth of any chosen moment.

As in life, so in Art – connection. Light and colour come through first, followed by recognition of the subject. Every story starts with a moment. Every photograph here has been a moment and continues to survive as a moment when engaged by viewer.

The space between doing and being, between what is said and what is thought, between taking a photograph and viewing that photograph, what is expressed and what is felt – that space where shadows and reflections dance, where daydreams exist . . .

At the beginning are my photographic images – standing alone they translate the world around me, the concrete world of daily routines, life cycles and our environment. The camera isolates these elements usually connected by spatial placement and functional context. My images transform daily details, sometimes by identification and isolation, sometimes by painting with my camera. Through this translation, a new perception is encouraged.

Though we strive for our moments of clarity wholly in the present – and I have claimed that my photographic images can do just this – be wholly in the moment – past memories and future responses tumble into these moments. Just as our daily lives are shaped by our environment – be it buildings, homes, fields, orchards, so too are they shaped by the inner connections. So many threads of histories, emotions and memories that fill spaces between us, all the connections woven internally and externally – all the many ways of approaching life and connecting with ourselves, others and our environment. It is all of these elements, these formless elements that occupy this body of work.

There is a paradoxical element to this work – as transitional moments are captured – frozen flames, dancing feet – and then printed to be viewed out of context. So time has become a key element to my working process, both as theme and method; and within a musical context, time as emotive compositional element. Here I am, a visual artist, creating images of those spaces between, those ethereal influences that inhabit our environment and our lives, with my camera and images of this physical world we all share.

I was Karamea’s Artist in Residence in 2010. For 10 wonderful weeks I lived in this remote part of New Zealand with 600 inhabitants and only one very windy road in and out, and developed my art practice and created new work. I was struck by how connected people appeared to be with themselves, their environment and each other. Art is an accepted element of New Zealand culture and a major influence of this residency on me has been finding a balance between life and art. I exhibited some of this new work in Karamea at the end of my residency. A year on, time has been spent with the images and impact of the residency and this is the first outing for a new body of work to come from that time and experience.

Paul Murray: ArtofNature Photography

Nature speaks to me. As I pass by, I hear it calling…please take my picture mister…Artofnature, it’s all there; vibrant patterns, vivid colours, intricate designs of pure genius and incredible beauty. I’m not the artist here, I just observe, contemplate and record the splendour and art of nature…all the creative work has already been done for me by the flowers, bushes, rivers, clouds, rocks and trees.
However, within each image, there are infinite visual metaphors…I try to capture a natural image that includes a metaphor in my photographs to enhance their artistic merit, to reflect other facets of life, and to inspire imagination and creative thinking in the viewer.
So, I listen to nature and seek to capture its message, add my own and present it to others as a photograph.
For this exhibition, I have chosen to use one image and replicate, flip, rotate, rejoin, blend, mirror and match to form a series of symmetrical montages from the original.
I look forward to exhibiting with Norma Burrowes who has been an inspiration to me and encouraged me back to the shutter.
I met Norma in 2009 when she was a resident artist at the LivinginPeace Project in Karamea, New Zealand, which I founded.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition and if you are in New Zealand, please come and visit!

Native Plants  April – Flax

Flax Harakeke

Flax is a traditional part of Maori life and has been ever since the Maori arrived in New Zealand.

Flax is used for rope, weaving for use as necklaces in jewellery

weaving to make food carry alls.

The seeds are highly edible. When white or green they are sweet and meaty. When black and shiny they are bitter. The sweet ones are nice on their own or sprinkled on a salad.

What I have noticed is that the plants with short, fat pods seem more likely to contain sweet white seeds – and after a while you can predict which pods will contain the sweetest seeds, because they have a slightly more yellow-brown tinge to them than the other pods.

It seems that the easiest way to extract the seeds from the pod is to snap it in the middle and squeeze the seeds out from each end.

They are nice in salads, and I am keen to try adding them to a paste or dip, probably ground up.

I haven’t had much luck with cooking or drying them. They tend shrivel to almost nothing.

Other edible parts
You can get a lot of sweet nectar out of the flowers. Maori have used it as a sweetener.

My friend Jane, who introduced me to flax seeds, says she has a friend who collects the pollen from flax flowers as a nutritional supplement. Flax produces a LOT of pollen, as I found when I looked down at my clothes after brushing up against flax flowers!

Soothing, healing gel
The plant’s gel can be found by pulling apart the leaves at the base. It has antiseptic qualities and makes a good substitute for aloe vera gel. I’ve used it to make a skin lotion.

Paper making
Andrew Reilly, an artisan papermaker in Bulls, has revived the art of making paper from harakeke, and produces a range of lovely papers.

Next Months Issue  – Native edibles

An analysis of what nutritious plants and wildlife exist in the bush and indeed in your own backyard that you can eat. Snow berries, oxalis, nasturtiums, dandelion root, monkey puzzle nuts, flax seed, fern root, huhu grubs and many flowers and seeds from bushes and trees that the Maori ate


Karamea Farm Baches:

Karamea Radio:

Heaphy Track:

Karameans Advocating Kahurangi Action:





About LivinginPeaceProject

Paul Murray is the founder of the LivinginPeace Project. Paul originally from Australia, but have been living in New Zealand for 14 years. Before that he was in Japan for a decade working as a journalist. He met his wife Sanae in Japan and they married in 2008.
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