COMPULSORY TREATMENT: The recent news regarding the extremely high rates of compulsory treatment currently in New Zealand is disturbing indeed. The human rights issue of unnecessary compulsory treatment has been a growing theme for me during the Hikoi, considering and feeling into the absolute discrepancy of power between the person sitting in front of a psychiatrist with the possibility of effectively having a major proportion of their rights removed within one brief decision, with potentially disastrous results for a lifetime. How would this situation affect the mental balance (being carefully assessed) of the sanest person on the planet?
PETITION: The official “paper petition” which will be presented to Parliament in mid-June is now available. Please email Teresa Rudgley firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to print a copy/ies and gather signatures. There are directions re sending back at the bottom of the petition page.
CONFESSION: Although my original vision was to walk the entirety of the North Island Te Araroa trail, and I did carry out this intention for the whole of Northland, I have come to see that the Hikoi is best served by me having more time for promoting the awareness-raising aspect, and also more flexibility within the time frame that I am working with to respond to unexpected events, so I am now choosing to travel by vehicle for many of the on-road sections of the trail.I will still, of course be doing the majority of the remaining trail.
HAMILTON was the chance to have a base for a time with my son (including three adventures with him, helping me out of the Hakarimatas and into Pirongia and walking one of the pre-Pirongia sections with me), and complete several sections around and beyond Hamilton with a mere day pack. (With thanks to Sharyn, Deborah and Florance for their support with transport).
Forty or so people attended the public meeting (with huge thanks to Waikato Patients Right Advocacy, and especially Pat McNair, for organizing the event). Those attending included a wide range of consumers and others, including 3 Occupational Therapists and a clinical psychologist currently working for the D.H.B. A lively and fullsome discussion was had, with many people attending keen to stay informed about the Hikoi and petition.
Waikato Times did an article on the Hikoi. (Apparently it was finally published today 6th April)
New friend Brad (who became a supporter of the Hikoi after seeing my post on “The Nutters Club” website), put me up for a couple of nights near Huntly and also carried my pack into the Hakarimatas for the first three hours. I was saddened to discover that one of the two large kauri at the northern end of the range had fallen, presumably claimed by one of the big storms in recent years…
We had the most extraordinary interaction with a piwakawaka (fantail), during our parting billy tea break. He/she danced around us closely and vigorously for several minutes with loud and intense singing. It seemed like an acknowledgement/blessing of Brad’s help with the Hikoi…
AUTUMN: My daughter Saoirse joined for three days of Hikoi when I finally departed from Hamilton region, south from Pirongia. Wonderful bonding, shared tramping/camping delightfulness and challenging tracks over rough semi-open ground with magnificent views; and overgrown, sometimes inadequately marked tracks through two gorgeous bush reserves.
Parting with Saoirse, just past the equinox, plunged me into autumnal melancholy, including grief over the uncertainty of when I will see her again.
The remainder of the Hikoi will no doubt carry greater challenges in terms of physical conditions: dropping temperatures, shorter days and rain, perhaps?? , calling on new reserves of emotional fortitude to move through these conditions without resistance, or as my Spiritual teacher says: to keep “expanding the emotional capacity” outwards beyond self-concern.
TE KUITI: Just after leaving Pirongia, I was given the contact details of Ngati Maniapoto Marae Pact Trust..and so my Te Kuiti meeting was born..
On 26th April I met with the clients, staff, other folk involved with the whare (and a visiting peer support worker) of a wonderful small service on the edge of Te Kuiti, “Whare Ruruhau”. Here 8 clients are lovingly supported by staff with strong background advocacy from Grace, the gracious team leader who keeps a weather eye on their clinical psychiatric care. I was touched and impressed by how the warm, caring Manaakikitanga has profoundly beneficial outcomes in terms of self-respect, dignity, communicativeness, and a subtle yet palpable empowerment which as well as a noticeable brightness of eye, results in a lack of the cynical compliance/defiance that I have usually observed in those living in supported accommodation.
PUREORA: Such a lot of resistance when I started into Pureora on Good Friday…. I had a wonderful text conversation when I first arrived in Te Kuiti with Rachel, (also doing the trail, mostly on her own and who I met the day that I climbed the Raetea range). We were talking about the different moods that the different seasons and different sections of the trail evoke, and the need to approach the walking as a meditation where buried mind content will emerge, and as Rachel says, to just “keep on walking”…
…By the middle of Saturday I had relaxed into forest pace, simple presence and the quiet contentment of enjoying all the green species and the occasional meeting with feathered ones….
I was reflecting on how old-fashioned tramping is a bit of a dying art…its as if the modern psyche is too impatient to travel at this pace…this is also reflected in the current development of cycle trails. Pureora had an official opening of its 80km timber cycle trail on the Saturday.
At these higher altitudes throughout the North Island, the trees get a thick covering of Tolkien-ish mosses: around the central plateau and down south the main species at this altitude are the beeches; in the Mahoe forests near Waitomo, it seemed to be hinau and tawiri, and in Pureora it is great kumatua Totara and great kuia Kotuktuku (native tree fuschia). I was astonished to also see a species of massive pseudopanax (five finger), which I have only ever known as shrubs or small trees. I found a few tiny totara berries, which have a taste and texture somewhat like cherries,with an aftertaste of pine needles 🙂
I ran out of water travelling through the tops of Pureora. There had been a light rain during the night, and I was drinking rain drops from the bracken and other ferns. Some particular, individual fronds had a way of capturing water at the base of each leaflet, and my eyes became very alertly attuned to noticing these, and drinking the tiny “fairy cups” of water.. (Apologies to any dehydrated Pureora fairies…).
On my last night in Pureora I camped by a stream with a well-protected fireplace, and carefully midwifed a fire from an unpromising beginning of slightly damp twigs and four “finished maps”. (oh those Te Araroa-not-particularly-helpful-maps that I have so often had the urge to do sacrificial burnings of!!!). It was a sheer delight to sit by a fire with my autumnal body/psyche enjoying the warmth and light.
And to be with all four elements on my last night in the magnificent Pureora forest…