Rebecca and Ray of Rakiura

Only have an hour to get this blog from my brian, to the laptop, edited, posted and shared.  Damon is working this morning, facilitating some meetings.  Soon he will arrive with a rented trailer to haul the furniture from the garage at our rented house in Pt. Chev to deliver to the glamping tent.  We also scored outdoor bamboo set we picked up for a cool couple hundy at habitat for humanity Re:store down in Mangere.  That will go on the huge deck at the treehouse, which is our main source of income while we’ve both dedicated ourselves full time to this new farming/ecotourism venture.

Part of the plan was and is to connect with people who care about nature and find ways to actively engage in Tiaki.  

How do we do this?

We travel.  We chat.  We listen.  We learn.

Today I am going to tell you about two wonderful wahine we met last week while we were in Rakiura.  

Ray and Rebecca are long time Rakiura residents and both feisty and fabulous human beings.  Ray has had her beautiful home on the motu (island) since 1986.  She moved permanently in the 90’s to the island with her Scottish husband Roddy, who was clearly the Love of her life.  Rebecca moved from the mainland when she was 7 years old.  She’s got a young son and a couple of stepkids growing up in the grandeur and isolation only gifted to children lucky enough to exist in such a pristine, safe, and wild environment.  

I’ve been thinking about them both since we left a few days ago and have been struggling to package in my brain how to share just how magical they both are and how profoundly impressed I am by both of them.

Let me start with Ray.

Ray is a healthy, feisty, funny and fabulous septuagenarian who manages a bed and breakfast overlooking golden bay on Rakiura.  Her large home has hosted hundreds, perhaps thousands of travelers from all over the world.  Since the pandemic hit, her guest demographic has changed from almost only foreign folks to adventurous kiwis exploring their own back yard.  A completely different situation according to Ray.  The last two years it has been like hosting family.  Foreigners will gingerly ask if they can use the laundry, while kiwis figure it out for themselves and make themselves at home.  Both kinds of visitors are okay by Ray, but she is ready to welcome foreign visitors again.

What struck us most about Ray was her intelligence and humility concerning that intellect.  She was incredibly well read and well-travelled.  Our second night with her we sat on her sheltered second story verandah and raised a glass to her late husband and chatted openly about a vast variety of subjects, from Isreal and Palestine, to the war in Ukraine, conservation, vaccinations, tourism, agriculture… just to name a few of the topics we skimmed that evening.

The next morning at breakfast our chats continued.  She asked if we engaged with our guests to the degree we had chatted, and of course we do not.  She manages her BnB as a host and we are a seamlessly contactless set up where our guests arrive and leave and generally never cross paths with us in person.  I suspect that’s the only way for us to operate as I am a woman of deeply felt and held convictions with no shortage of opinions.  As I said to Ray (and was rewarded with a huge belly laugh from her) “Nobody is ever going to die wondering what I think!”  And that probably wouldn’t be the most relaxing way for most people to enjoy their digital detox or vacation on our beloved farm.  So Ray will host in her way and we will stick to ours.  I will say getting to know her and learning from her nearly four decades of working in tourism (after a career as a latin and classical studies teacher) was in itself worth the trip we took to the deep South.

We also met an amazing woman named Rebecca at her hilltop home and studio in Oban.  We’d just finished a dream day in Ulva island where we ran into our mutual friend and fellow sustainability advocate Tracy.  Damon and I both knew her from different channels in our sustainability careers.  I’ve been wanting to catch up with her for years and years, and she just lived around the corner from me on Auckland’s North Shore, yet we met waiting for a water taxi to Ulva Island in the deepest southern tip of the South Island.  How cool is that? Awesome actually.

So after this epic day of content capturing and canoodling with my fiancé on deserted beaches with not a soul in sight we walked through the golden bay coastal track and wended our way back to the tiny township.

The sun was blazing down that day, and we were tired and thirsty after finishing off the last of the water from our ecotanker vessels.  Damon was done at this point.  I was still buzzing from the birdsong and ease of the day chatting with a wahine toa I had long since respected and got to see in person that day.  We stumbled across Rebecca’s gallery and so we walked in.

We put on our masks and proceeded to snoop around her tidy and beautiful workspace.  Rebecca makes prints of seaweed she collects from around the island.  We bought three small prints that day, and learned about two of her mentors, and I have forgotten both of their names but will ask her on dm later because I am keen to connect with them both.  She called one the “queen of seaweed” and the other “and absolute marine biology legend” and both women have helped her to start her business and flex her creative muscles to further conservation conversations.  

We totally vibed Rebecca and I.  She’s epic cool.  She talked about the joy of childhood on the island where nobody locks their doors and everyone is supportive and the community is connected and safe.  Isolation and the pace of life, where people live withing the tempo of the rythms of nature, is idyllic when told by her.  Her partner is a fisherman and their family enjoy an annual hunt to gather mutton bird (titi) which she said is best boiled twice then roasted.  We will be back to try this delicacy with her or our other friends across the Foveaux strait in Bluff.  

You can meet this amazing woman and her family yourselves soon as they will be on Hyundai Country Calendar in April.  I believe she said they will be airing this episode on April 10th.  At any rate, she impressed me with her talent, her grace and her intelligence.  We agreed together that mycology and seaweed were poised to save us all, and if not humanity at least these two powerful natural forces would clean up the mess humanity has made if we destroy ourselves through war or climate change.  

Yeah, I do not do small talk.  

So, that’s it.

That’s my blog about two beautiful forces of fabulousness I was honoured to connect with.

Many more adventures ahead, and it is such a magical thing to connect with inspiration as we continue our career change and carve out a new path as famers and hosts.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Mā te wā