While venturing through the world, now and then I come across places on my travels which I find it difficult to put down on pen and paper. Even though the yearning to write about these magnificent places is so strong, I cower away because a fear takes hold of me – a fear that I won’t be able to do these beautiful places justice with my words.
Takaka is one of those places. Nestled within Golden Bay, at the top of the South Island, Takaka emits a warmth unknown to me before now. Surrounding Takaka are waterfalls, trekking routes in the nearby Abel Tasman and an abundance of idyllic beaches stretching from one end of Golden Bay to the other. For two months I lived in this little hippie haven without noting down all the wonder I saw before my eyes, and I scold myself each day for delaying it. But now, I must write, before I leave this beautiful place and my memory starts to trick me, as memories often do. So, where do I begin?
As I wander down the main street, hippies dance around my steps while their bare feet lick the ground beneath them, large grins taking over their faces as they pass, but not without shouting a greeting in my direction. Concrete gives way to green spaces as nature and man made developments collide and I wander into the communal gardens just off the main road. Here groups of people lie baking in the afternoon sun, soft words flowing from their mouths and laughter kissing their lips. A guy with a rugged beard sits in the shade under a towering tree strumming softly on his guitar. The people nod in my direction as I walk past, their infectious, carefree vibes passing into my soul without them knowing.
The community is brimming with creativity which is showcased every Saturday at the Village Market. Locals make necklaces bearing beautiful, locally sourced stones, or tapestry they have crafted with their own hands. Many sell fresh, homegrown fruit and vegetables for a reasonable price – encouraging locals to support one another rather than the corporate supermarket. Some individuals showcase their wood carving talents, selling anything from large tables to small, intricate decorations. Others venture around the world during the winter months, buying handmade goods from Nepali and Indian tribes to sell to Takaka locals or travellers passing through.
In the dull light of the evening sun people gather in the park to slackline, to practice yoga with just acquainted friends, or come together for a jam session on digeridoos and guitars. An incredible flow of infectious energy bounces from one person to the next. There are no barriers in communication here and everyone is always welcome, emphasising a yearning for the collective community which used to dominate our cultures. People wave, smile and shout greetings in your direction, they urge you to join in with whatever they’re up to – to live communally. A world without strangers, a world where every stranger is simply a friend you haven’t met yet.
Takaka is a cosy bubble of individuals who care; about issues bigger than themselves, about the wider world, as well as about one another, and who project that in their everyday lives. People are passionate about the environment, about living off of locally, if not self grown, produce, about caring for one another and maintaining a welcoming and happy atmosphere for others to be a part of.
We created something special here – a pocket in the world where people gather after work to play music, to chat, to interact and connect with other like-minded humans rather than separate from each other and choose a TV screen as their companion instead. Takaka, for me, has been a breath of fresh air. Away from the constant competition and rivalry so often at play in Western societies, and rather a shift in focus to what is important – connecting with like-minded souls, experiencing life with them and in turn reinitating that laughter and sense of belonging which we all desire.
To conclude this incredible experience, I went with these beautiful people to Luminate Festival – a 7 day festival heavily focused on caring for Mother Earth, natural healing and stripping back the hardships of life to genuine connection and a whole lot of love!
I cannot tell you with words – for I do not have the words – but this experience changed the way I see life, opened my eyes to so many incredible paths and made me passionate about what I know to be important in this world. The connections and bonds I made there are indescribable – a safe haven of people whose energy constantly bounced off each other and in turn offered a home for my heart. A group of people who inspire me to take what we experienced in that environment out in to the world and spread the love, energy and knowledge with everyone I meet. I feel passionate to share this with others – to show them that we can live a fulfilled life without feeling the need to be part of a system which encourages competitiveness, stressful routines and vetting ourselves against our fellow human beings. Our energy is only strengthened by connecting with others – we must not segregate ourselves. I feel honoured to have been part of such a beautiful journey with these incredible, passionate souls who continue to inspire me everyday.
Takaka and my experience in this beautiful, eco-orientated town has instilled an important shift within me – one which, if you let it, New Zealand as a whole encourages within everyone. It is a passion to step back from the direction which most Western societies are heading towards – by that I mean obsessive consumerist tendencies stemming from corporate businesses manipulating our desires – and taking a step back towards the ways of our ancestors. Thus, becoming re-affiliated with nature, exchanging some of our precious time spent using technology with valuable human interactions from which we can learn and grow.
Takaka emits a magic from its core. A magic which, if you give yourself the time to pause here and immerse yourself in all which it has to offer, will stay with you long after you leave its gentle streets.
Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman
Be weird. Be wonderful.