Sunday, June 6, 2010

Living in Tiki Street

I purchased some product from an Etsy Vendor recently and in the response to my packaging request she said: "I have to say, I wish I lived in Tiki Street in New Zealand! Sounds wonderful."

So, What is a tiki and why is the street called Tiki Street?

In the Māori language, the word 'tiki' was the name given to large wooden carvings in roughly human shape, although this is a somewhat archaic usage. The modern term tiki actually refers to hei-tiki and is an ornamental neck pendant of the Maori which also represents a humanoid figure. Hei-tiki are usually made of greenstone (nephrite jade) and worn around the neck. The street is so named because it is the site where a tiki was once given to honour Maniapoto the great chief whose decendants still live in the area. The story of Hangatiki is told in an earlier blog "The Tiki That Was Made"

What do you see at Tiki Street that sounds or looks wonderful?

Hangatiki is the gateway to Waitomo Caves village and the world famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, which gets close to a million tourist visitors every year. It is close to the Main Trunk line, the rail line that runs from the far north down through the island to the southern tip. So on the negative side, this small rural area does have periods of time when traffic noise can be heard and the train as it passes through.

There are frequent occasions when a rainbow appears in the sky, the promise of hope and life.

My property has a number of trees and at the right time of the year we are visited by tui and kereru. They are truly beautiful.

The neighbours have a minagery of animals a petting zoo in fact. The donkeys and miniature horses are periodically grazed on my land; A very efficient lawn mowing service indeed.

I don't like the close confines of living in town. I like my rural setting at Tiki Street in Hangatiki.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lest We Forget

April 25, is the day that Australians and New Zealanders commemorate the fallen and those who served in the armed forces to defend our countries and those of our allies.

It was 95 years ago that the ANZACs landed at a cove in Gallipoli that now bears their name. It was the first time that our nations had engaged in War as independant colonies and through that and subsequent campaigns ANZAC troops carved for themselves an international reputation that stands even today as some of the world's best soldiers.

As a younger man I didn't really have much appreciation of the significant of the sacrifice made. However now, as a father of my own children and different perspective, I have a gratitude and appreciation. I live in a country that enjoys peace. We have liberty to determine much of our own path in life.

My Grandfather, who I never knew, fought at Flanders Fields in the British Army during the First World War. My Father, too young to serve in Europe, joined the RNZAF in 1942 and served in the Pacific during the later years of World War II. The both returned from war and in time started families.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those that fought and to those that died, Their death and sacrifice brought for us the freedom that we enjoy today. Wars are tragic and sad, but when we appreciate oour freedom we have and the ideals of those went, we must never forget.

Thanks Grandad. Thanks Dad.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hangatiki - The tiki that was made.

For some time I have contended that when there are stories to go with an experience, it adds meaning and significance to the experience. Historical and cultural landmarks can become memorable if there is a story to go with it.

A few years ago, I was told the story of the tiki that was built, but the details were sketchy. I figured that where I live and my motel site is arguably pretty close to the place of the story, although I had some doubts because of the location of a cave referred to.

I recently visited a kaumatua (elder), who confirmed for me that my motel, at the foot of Pukeroa, is in fact the place where the event took place.

The following story was recounted to me by Walter Anderson:

As Maniapoto (The ancestor after whom the Ngati Maniapoto tribe is named) got into his twilight years he made a shift from Hikurangi to Te Ana Ureure at Pukeraro between Hangatiki and Te Korapatu Marae.

Te Ana a Ureure, where Manaipoto lived
He lived for sometime here, before moving to Kauae, now known as Hangatiki. The maunga (mountain/hill) here is Pukeroa and on its slopes, was where Maniapoto handed the mauri (essence/mantle) of leadership over to his son Te Kawairirangi. When he sensed his time was near, Maniapoto asked his brother in-law Tuirirangi, to call the tribe together. He was worried that if he called the hui himself, the people would think it was a call to war.

After speaking to the assembly, Maniapoto called on different groups to perform the haka. The last group to perform, included his son Te Kawairirangi who performed the haka Tuwaewae. It was so terrifying, it gladdened Maniapoto’s heart.

It was from this hui that the Maniapoto whakatauaki (saying) came about;
‘Kia mau tena, kia mau ki te kawau maro.’ (In unity there is strength)

Maniapoto died shortly after, surrounded by his people and a "hei tiki" was carved by Pohoroa to commemorate his death and the area was renamed Hangatiki (the tiki that was made).

This is not the carving referred to in the story above. However is is a depiction of Maniapoto in his cave. This carving is found in Te Kohaarua, the ancestral meeting house at Maniaroa.
A further note about the whakatauki referred to above;
The more literal translation is: Hold fast to this, Hold fast to the swoop of the cormorant.
The kawau maro or cormorant bird (shag) was a military term and metaphor a for trianguilar formation, the shape the shag makes when it dives into the sea.
Maniapoto was expressing his wish that his people would continue to be a tribe of warriors.
These were his last words in public. Before the people dispersed Maniapoto passed away.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Hats

Periodically, even frequently I'm asked by people in their effort to pigeon hole me and/or make connections; "Who are you?", What are you?" and "What do you do?".

We are often defined by and measured against the the various things we do or the roles we hold. I guess for some of us we are so busy being busy and doing whatever our roles require that they become the defining things. What about the real me or the real you? Are those entities different to the one defined by a specific role?

Vocationally I have three hats. By day I work as a mobile tutor for a polytechnic, which some readers my better understand as a community college. Having spent a number of years as a primary/elementary school teacher and principal, I made a change and moved into adult education.

Now in my 5th year I visit locations in a 10,000 sq km region with laptop computers and a trailer equipped with a satellite dish for internet access, and deliver online computing programs or day workshops to help people in rural and remote places have access to technology and the opportunity to upskill. I built a site dedicated to this work to show where when and how we are making a difference in the rural heartland of New Zealand.

My wife and I own a motel near the world famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves and when I am not on the road I'm at home wearing my motellier hat trying to keep the motel in good order and repair.

My third hat is probably my greatest passion at the present time. I run another business entity called Waitomo IT Solutions. It earns me the least amount of money but gives me the greatest amount of satisfaction. For a number of years, I was the person friends and neighbours called on to fix their computers. Ususally all I got was a word of thanks but now days I am less inclined to do things because a friend of a friend said that I could and would. My chargeout rate is cheaper than the technicians in town but my time is valuable and nothing is free.

The area of this business that I am developing though, is the web development and hosting side of things. I have a number of clients in 3 different countries and the sites range from the simple brochure advert to full content management systems. Artwork was always an area that I wasn't so confident with. Recently, however, I have begun working in partnership with Raven Muse to provide quality original artwork, headers and logos for my clients.

While sometimes it seems that I am all about work, there are other roles and interests that contribute to the definition of who I am. I am the father of four, 2 girls 18 and 16, and 2 boys 14 and 12. They are good kids. I'm proud of each of them (No recent photo though I'm afraid).

Over the years I have been involved in numerous community activities and groups. In the past I have held leadership roles in churches and trade union branch committees. I am currently the secretary of the Waitomo Axe and Gun Club and Otorohanga Axeman's Association. I am the vice President of the Otorohanga County Fair Association, but that committee is in recess at the present time. I'm also on the Waitomo Caves Sports Day committee. Last year I managed the provicincial representative rugby team that my son was selected for.

It is a bit of a struggle to say "No" sometimes. That can, on ocassion, cause a bit of conflict when those at home think they should take precedence over the here and now of the group or activity I'm involved in. While involvement in these activities does meet a social need for me, the clay bird shooting, chopping and rugby are also the interests and sporting activities of my son. So for the most part, my current continued involvement is primarily to give him opportunities and support that he might otherwise not have.

I guess one could say that I'm given to serving others. I do try and hopefully with the right motivation and for the right reasons. One of the greatest joys and rewarding experiences I think one can have is knowing you have helped someone and made a difference.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Bit Of Philosophy

Wow, a month has gone by so quickly. I thought I would get back to this a whole lot sooner.

Looking back at the last post, I think maybe I want to get the religious issues out of the the way...

Having referred to my time in Bible School, I could elaborate somewhat about some of my views. I'll just put it out there so it is in the open. I do think that faith is a highway that is travelled not a destination one arrives at. So things change along the way and what I have here is merely a snapshot of where i am in that journey today.

I did for many years subscribe to what I refer to as a conservative evangelical theology. To some extent I still do. However, over time I found there can be a tendancy for those who subscribe to that worldview to become somewhat legalistic and bound to a set of rules that may not, in fact, be very biblical at all. Some of those folks tend to not have a lot of tolerance for those of different pathways and followings. They tend to impose their own values on and judge actions of people by their own exacting standard and make no allowance for the fact that not eveyone has the same framework of spiritual or moral belief. Many have become like that Pharisees of Jesus day, who judged but didn't live very well themselves the tenants of their faith. Jesus summed up the 10 commandments in 2 positive statements; Love God & Love your neighbour... Pharisaical types simply interpret them with one negative word; "DON'T". It can be very safe to live within a set of rules, but it can also be very stifling. Needless to say, if one is within a church of folks who think tht way, and if one fails to conform... there is a tendancy to be criticised and judged, even persecuted. When your family gets victimised, it is time to get out.

I'm not one of those who embraces an "all paths lead to God" view, and since i'm not God, I'm not in a position to judge those whose viewpoint differs from my own. So what is it that i believe?

Most simply put; my view is still a monotheistic one. I do believe there is a supreme creator God.
I think ultimately we will be called to account for the way we live or have lived our lives. I believe that humans are spiritual beings. I am a creationist. I believe the biblical account of the historical Jesus to be true, that He was God incarnate, that after his crucifixion, He rose from death and ascended into heaven. The Apostles Creed is a good doctrinal summary.

Having for a number of years taught what i believed to be biblical truth, I have been challenged in recent years to consider how much was actually "biblical" and how much was "church tradition". Now church tradition is not always a bad thing, but if it is elevated to the authority of "the word of God" then teachers can be guilty of indoctrinating the innocent when accept without question what is delivered from the pulpit.

I spoke some time ago to a catholic woman whe was full of "Father said this" and "Father said that" as if "Father" (her priest) spoke the very words of the Almighty. There was no way she would entertain the possibility of an alternate point of view.(note for clarification, I've never been a catholic)

I taught in a "Christian" School for a year at the turn of the millenium, and while some of the staff, board and parents were nice, well intentioned and well meaning people, they were locked into a world view that inhibited them from seeing things that were written in their own bibles. The children were indoctrinated and their capacity to reason impaired.

You can perhaps see that I might become frustrated in such environments.

I have to admit to being in what some have referred to as a "post evangelical wilderness" at the present time. I haven't rejected, the former evangelical theology. The fundamental teachings still underpin my framework of belief. I am in a state of limbo, not having a "church" and like minded folks to "fellowship" with. (see i still use the jargon).

One thing I struggle with at the presnt time is the notion of a personal intimate relationship with the creator. Is that something that one has or not?
The Old Testament accounts of God interacting with His people were usually in the context of a collective; ie the whole nation of Israel. Generally speaking, evangelical interpretation of the New Testament is that what applied to the nation in the Old Testament applies to individuals in the New. I'm not entirely convinced. I can accept that what applied to the nation in the Old can be extended to all nations and races in the New, but is it on an individual personal and intimate level or the collective "church" level. When I refer to the church in this context I mean those who subscribe to the belief in Christ as the saviour of humankind. I don't mean the various denominational groups and movements that comprise the political and power systems of organised religion.

Well it has been hours in its composition; there is no way to condense 30 years of journey simply into a single blog entry. I think I covered most of the bases to present the snapshot. It is not meant to be a contentious treatise or discussion paper, nor and authoratative statement, merely setting the scene... a self disclosure, and probably more for myself than others. If you have taken the time and been interested enough to read it then Thank you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do Re Mi

Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi

(The Sound of Music)

I looked at a few blogs and they start with "First Post" or "My First Blog". I wondered "Where do I start and what do I call it?" I was reminded of the words above from The Sound of Music, Do Re Mi, so that gave me a title, but what is the beginning for me in terms of a place to start?

About 5 or 6 years ago, I was going to attempt a blog but the preferred name was taken. Interestingly the person using it was surprised that it was available at the time. I didn't carry on any further at that time because there were some other blog tools to use and I still really wasn't convinced I needed to. I still probably don't need to but... inspired somewhat by a friend, I'm having a go.

So what's in the name? Lord Viminalis! Reads like a title of nobility huh? Actuallay it was my inspirational friend who thought of it. Lord is my surname. I've probably hear all the jokes and namecalling that can be attached to it. Nowadays I get in first.
"Is that Law, How do you spell it?"
(I'm frequently tempted to say "I.T.")
"It's Lord; like God; but my initials are CJ, not JC."
It usually gets a smile and the name is written down correctly.

I spent a year in a theological institution when I was 20. I had an interesting experience there. I guess it was a bit like Mr Bun, the Baker; Chris Lord, the Christian. The experience that comes to mind involved a painting. My roommate was a man several years my senior called Ken Virtue. So we have Lord and Virtue sharing a dorm together. Ken was an artist and decided to donate a painting for the class to give to one of our lecturers. We took the painting to the picture framer and selected an appropriate frame. A week later I went back to collect it. The assistant at the counter hunted high and low to find it. there was nothing for Lord; nothing for Virtue; nothing for Bible School. Finally I suggested that it would be the size of a wrapped picture that he hadn't looked at. He opened a corner to reveal that it was our picture. When I paid my money and the picture was handed over the name on the label said "Mr Divine".

What about Viminalis? Where did that come from? Fifteen years ago it was my password on a bulletin board. Then I discovered IRC. Viminalis became my nickname. It was unique enough and I haven't found it used anywhere else (except here of course).
Viminalis is a latin word used in botanic names of trees with a particular characteristic. The three most common usages I have found are in the botanic name of an Australian gum tree (Eucalyptus Viminalis) and a species of willow (Salix Viminalis) and my favourite, a weeping bottlebrush (Callistemon Viminalis). The characteristic these trees have, and where the word derives from, is that they are spreading or reaching out.

Whether it is a strength or a weakenss, blessing or a curse; I find myself in situations where I am reaching out. My wife and I own a motel so we reach out and extend hospitality. I am a mobile tutor by day covering a 10,000 square km territory so reach out with education, using satellite technology that stretches the internet into communities that sometimes have nothing but dial up. I also design and host websites with clients in 3 different countries, so the reach is international. IRC and involvement in support channels is yet another outreach from a small country at the bottom of the pacific triangle.

So we are Viminalis-nz and this will be the blog of Lord Viminalis.