Someone wise once said you should never go travelling until you have seen the beauty in your own backyard. In this spirit I began my journey of discovery this morning at Island Bay beach down the road from my flat. I hopped on my trusty old bike at 6.15am, thermos cup of tea in hand, helmet over woolly hat and I rolled through the clear morning air to the beach. On the rocks, with a small bunch of environmental enthusiasts and dancing solar panels I watched the sun rise over the Rimutaka Ranges. I can honestly say there is no place in the world that sinks so sweetly and deeply into my soul as the south coast of Wellington. What pulled us out of bed so unnaturally early on a Sunday morning was the launch celebration of the world’s largest ever working bee (10/10/10) - along with the enormous enthusiasm of my flatmate, Aaron Packard. Aaron is the Pacific coordinator for 350.org - a passionate climate enthusiast with a big heart and a flair for the ridiculous. It was Aaron's idea to make solar panel costumes out of cardboard boxes and to welcome the sun with a solar panel boogie. Yesterday I helped make the panels and this morning I shook my thing to the beat of the taiko drum. Aaron is one of the first inspiring kiwis on my journey of discovery. In a couple of days I'm going to tell you his story. But for now I want to share some thoughts from this morning. Standing on the rocks in the exquisite stillness of dawn our attention was drawn to the earth under our feet, to the trillions of hearts beating around the planet, to the miracle of life on earth, the enormity of space and the constant march of time. Listening to the blessing and Waiata I felt a wave of gratitude well up in me. Gratitude for the beauty, wisdom and gentleness of this land. I felt a desire to let this beauty, wisdom and gentleness pour into my thoughts and actions; to let it shape the culture and vision of this country.
There is something magical about New Zealand, Aotearoa. And as Kiwis - Maori or Pakeha - I think we all carry this magic in our hearts somewhere, no matter how staunch or cynical we are. It may not always show in our working lives or our policies but it's there - there is something about our country that we love. On my journey I hope to discover this magic something. I hope to learn how it has shaped our history and character and how it might reshape our future. I guess you would call this the spiritual side of my journey.