May 23, 2011

Global Action Lived Locally: A Case Study from Aotearoa, New Zealand


Papatuanuku Ki Taurangi (Earth Promise) was developed by the Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand as a community working for a just and sustainable Earth with women, children and families in local areas.

Papatuanuku ki Taurangi –
Earth Promise

It is what the sisters call “small beginnings” in their response to the challenges faced by environmental challenges to the Earth. The Sisters moved into the community house in February 2001 and from that time developed the Community Garden and planted trees on the property. The garden is based on permaculture and organic principles and is to be the basis of teaching and learning as well as of providing food. The first community, with helpers, built the glass house, laid stonework and pathways and built the garden shed! The house was intentionally big as the sisters wanted it to be open to all. It was also built with some eco features of the time; recycled flooring, concrete block, solar heating and north facing for maximum sunlight. The desire to live this way came from changing world views: a new understanding of our universe and our role as humans, and accompanying that, a desire to look at new ways to be in vowed life as a response to these new understandings.

Rosemary Revell RSM

Rosemary Revell supervises the garden and has become committed to Oooby – an acronym for ‘out of our own back yard’. The initiative is being championed by expatriate Australian Peter Russell, who now lives on Waiheke Island and advances the case for a domestic food strategy. Local production needs to be sustainable, in case our access to overseas food supplies is cut. Rosemary now supplies vegetables, to a farmers’ market in Grey Lynn. Suppliers can trade in ‘roobies’, swapping their goods for other produce. For a bag of new potatoes and some broad beans, Rosemary gets gourmet lettuce and beetroot seedlings and some broccoli plants. She also gets new ideas from the ooobyversity, held in the Grey Lynn Community Centre. Unsold produce goes to Auckland’s City Mission.

Rosemary is working to develop biodynamic compost. She has hosted two workshops; one was led by Peter Proctor, an experienced biodynamic farmer; the other featured the ‘dirt doctor’, Jim O’Gorman from North Otago, an expert in soil science who incorporates weeds into the composting cycle.

Since 2010 the house is open to sisters and others who wish to spend time in some way with the Earth, in reflection and in action with the Community Garden and wider aspects of the mission of the centre. Over the years many sisters, friends and women in need have visited. The centre seek to offer a living model that bears witness to a healthy and sustainable ecological relationship with Earth and Universe, and to explore another way of living religious community that speaks to the needs of this time. They extend a cosmic hospitality-a welcoming of the mystery of the unfolding Universe. Their experience tells them that those who come for respite, find healing through creativity and reconnecting to the Earth.


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