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South Coast Environment Society (Based in Riverton, New Zealand)

Open Orchard Project - this means that the resources will be available to all Southlanders

The goal of the Open Orchard project is to get a diverse range of old varieties of healthy heritage fruit trees back in to our Southland communities. This is important for the following reasons:

  • Preservation of varieties (old varieties have greater resistance to disease and pests and so don't need all of the sprays that modern varieties require)
  • Preservation of skills
  • Access to healthy locally grown food
  • Preservation of our heritage

Background: The Guytons (founders of the society) found they could not grow modern apple tree varieties in our coastal town of Riverton. They did not thrive. In discussion with the locals they discovered that many of us farming in the district had orchards with very old well established apple trees that did very well.

Our Input: As long established farmers in the district we invited Robyn Guyton to see if the trees in any of our 3 family farming areas could be of any use. Consequently we supplied 6 different variety of apple to this project. The trees estimated at being 130 years old are now an established part of this project. Grafts from our trees are planted in a community orchard area in Riverton.

Development: This project began in 2007 and is now establishing well with an enormous amount of interest worldwide. Old varieties that arrived to New Zealand with the early settlers have been identified and preserved for future generations. In 2009 45 old Southland Orchards were involved. Further land was given and by 2010 a collection of 500 apple trees were growing. The top 50 varieties will be identified and selected. Currently a living apple museum and scion bank is being developed. The 50 best apple trees will be grown along with the best plums and pears. The centre also provides advice and workshops on planting, pruning, grafting and caring for the trees.

Rules: Those folk who gave the original apple grafts in effect have continuing interest in their own trees in the main orchard. Collectively they are tended and looked after. Picnic lunches are held for those families to gather together and tend their trees and enjoy each others company. Apples are common to share amongst the people of Riverton. The South Coast Environment Society effectively "manage" the project. They have the gardening and environmental knowledge to do this. To date there has been no need to develop strict rules as respect and common interest and delight at the success of the project has been sufficient.

Impact: There has been worldwide interest because some of the varieties had been lost in the countries of origin. Most of the orchards were planted between 1850 and 1910.

Scions have been sent all round New Zealand.

Trees are being sold directly back to the Southland community cheaply.

School have been encouraged and helped to develop their own apple orchards.

Once a year a harvest festival is held in our local college to encourage people to get involved in sustainable care of our environment. Locally grown goods are available for sample and purchase and workshops held to extend knowledge.

Robyn and Robert Guyton are pioneers in this field and we in Riverton acknowledge and support the Environment Centre Shop established and their input back into our Riverton Community.

Acknowledgement: Southcoast Environment Centre Project Outline

Topic Two - Describe the persistence of poverty in your region etc

The two persistent sources of poverty in my area are through unemployment or solo parenting.

As I have been involved in education as a School Secretary for 24 years I have watched poverty reflected in the children.

Ben Ramalingan in his Book "Aid on the edge of chaos" says to "Find ways to deliver aid at the local level. Pay attention to local knowledge."

In this respect I have been involved in 3 areas contributing both knowledge and support.

1. Through involvement with the Community Trust. This Trust Contracts services it can then give back to the folk in the Community. This is in the form of budget advice, counselling,

     CV writing and job searching support, rides to the City for medical and hospital

     appointments. I was their Secretary for 5 years and helped negotiate the Government

     Contracts of supply.

 2. Through my Church we have made space and created an Opportunity Shop. This is

     totally staffed by volunteers. Many of our low income folk can now clothe themselves

     for very little expense. The nearest clothing stores are in the city - half an hours drive

     away. There is no public transport to the city from our rural town.

 3.   The Mission Team at our Church contacted the local School Principal to

     find out if children going to School without breakfast was an issue. It was - so our team

     provide the finance for the school to fund breakfast for those children who need it.

 4.   Personally my husband and I have financially and secretly supported poverty we see

     within our local Boys' Brigade Company. We work within this group and watch to notice

     any of the boys that have not paid their sub. We simply pay it. We watch to see if any

     boy is avoiding going to some of the activities that have a cost attached.

It does not take us long to develop a relationship with the family and assure them that their boys are able to take part in all activities and the cost will be covered.

Although one would say poverty in our area is limited and not a glaring problem it is most certainly simmering underneath our community with those in this situation often choosing to hide rather than seek support.

Within our school situation I have watched first hand how children can be affected even from within what seems like a well developed rural area. We see financial pressure at Christmas time lead to violence within the domestic scene. Although not on a big scale in our community I believe poverty can be found in every community.

Two examples of social mobilization with important impact in fighting disease.

The first example I have been involved in is the Life Education Bus. This is a mobile bus that travels around the schools.   The bus is loaded with life skill information and a trained Teacher to teach the children. As a past Secretary of Thornbury School I was involved in making sure this was a yearly visit.

Professor McGuire said that "Education is the route to freedom. This gives us the capability to survive physically and is fundamental. We know that if kids have breakfast it helps their learning."    

The children were given age appropriate lessons on board the bus. Inside is interesting displays and technology. The bus came alive to explain life skills. Things like the importance of hand washing and brushing your teeth, eating healthy food and getting plenty of sleep. They use Harold the Giraffe as a teaching character. Their website is also very well developed with learning games and interactive things for the children to do as reminders and reinforcement of what they have learned. We believe this helps our kids take responsibility for their own health and well being.

Hand washing was identified as a major thing for all to learn. This was reinforced in the "Help a Child reach 5" programme in India.

The second example is from my local Church who has a yearly involvement with Christian World Service. At Christmas time we focus on supporting their work all around the world. Our Church foyer is decorated with all their Christmas appeal information.

Everyone who enters the Church over the month of December is encouraged to place a donation in the tin of their choice. This year our tins are labelled as a pig or a garden for Nicaragua, Baby & Mother help, chickens, goats & sheep for Palestine, a hive of bees & seeds for Sri Lanka, cement & fish farm for Timor, schooling for girls, footballs & books for South Sudan, Teachers and rebuild a school for Haiti, compost for Tonga, training young people for Gaza, water for Uganda, survival training & mangroves for the Philippines, a calf for India.

This project really catches the imagination of people who respond very well to choosing where they would like their money to be directed. The display tells how much money is required to say buy a chicken, goat or a football etc. It is also used by our folk to give a gift to others.

Last year our neighbours gave us a goat. They placed the money in the tin on our behalf instead of giving us a Christmas gift. We got a card that showed where and how that gift would be used.

Dr Jeffrey Sachs talked about the importance of professional knowledge and that we need to live in a moral framework.

As I live in a developed country it is by using established organizations like Christian World Service we know our donation will get to the correct destination.

Two ways that have helped the environment

Allice Haddad talked about the NIMB. (Not in my backyard.) This saying really appealed to me because it is where I fit in terms of my ability to contribute in any way to assisting in seeing that the environment is well and truly looked after. Ground roots level.

One of the most easily implemented things that a local rural community can do whenever possible is to car pool. One less car on the road because somebody has thought to communicate with others going to the same event makes a difference. We effectively advocate car pooling in the Church community, the Arts community, the sports community and the school community.  What a difference this makes. If one takes the time to count the number of cars parked up against the number of vehicles on the road to get a group of people to the same place. A simple, basic but very affective contribution to our way of thinking and planning.

The second area is from within our farming business. Farmers in our area have worked with each other and with Environment Southland to promote, put in place and practice safe, effective and efficient environment policies. Strict guidelines and checks monitor any new and existing systems. Each farm in our area has to have its own consent conditions in terms of both infrastructure and ongoing maintenance.

Stock numbers must be satisfactory to land area. Effluent can only be applied to a specified area of land. This returns waste nutrients to the paddocks but the consent requires you to keep well away from any waterways. Both the storing and return of effluent is carefully monitored. The application rate is at just the right amount for the soil.

Our farmers are environmentally informed, closely monitored and are prosecuted and fined if they go beyond the boundaries of their consents.

The consent process and the attention to detail in what they are required to have built on their farms to store and process correctly is at a huge financial cost to the farmer. They all work diligently to get it right.

The concepts used are not short term. Short term thinking was one of the problems identified in the video lectures. It was pointed out the most of us want a quick fix especially in economic areas. In a farming business that is often passed down within families as is reflected in my area there is a heart for the land and the environment. Future generations are working alongside grandparents and parents. This means that long term planning and sustainability is part of how we do things.

The NIMB motto is an unspoken thing in my area but I think it is a great concept and will certainly be applying it whenever I am in a situation where it fits.

I enjoyed the discussion around the right brain versus the left brain. Seems to me that visual education is the way to go to promote environmental issues.

2 examples where building capacity for woman and girls has turned out to be an effective strategy.

Example 1 from New Zealand

The Government via the Ministry of Health now has in place a free immunisation scheme for the two types of HPV. They are cervical cancer and genital warts. This vaccine provides long lasting protection. This is given free to young girls before they become sexually active.

Education was given via the school system to both teenage girls and their parents. Being immunized means that females are much less likely to have an HPV infection, receive an abnormal smear test result or develop cervical cancer in the future.

There is also good evidence that younger girls develop a stronger immune response from the vaccine than older girls so the younger they receive it the better.

This programme began on 1st September, 2008. It is a highly effective vaccine against the major cancer-causing types of HPV. It is an important tool for the primary prevention of cancer in New Zealand.

Education has been the key to implementing this. As a School Secretary I have watched a very positive response to seeing young girls are protected. I have no doubt they are very lucky and future generations of women in New Zealand will become free of the HPV virus. This will have a very positive influence on society.

2nd example

The Christian World Service is involved all round the world. Our Church follows their work and personally we support them.

Christian World service has involvement in India. The status of women and girls in India has long been in the spot light. Although some women have held high office many woman and girls continue to face atrocities such as rape, acid throwing, dowry killings and forced prostitution amongst young girls.

In the CWS annual report they tell us that with partners they have had a major impact on the situation of women and girls. Education plays a large role. EKTA (the leading developer of LED video screens and business solutions) in partnership with CWS helped train community groups on gender awareness, encouraged women's participation in local government and actively campaigned for the prevention of violence against girls and women.

Two campaigns - One Billion Rising and the Safer Cities Campaign were very successful.

The "One Billion Rising" campaign aims to engage, awaken and join people all round the world to end violence against women. Helping to make this a global issue and not confined to any particular country.

They have helped change laws and empower women to stand up against injustice.

UN-Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme was launched in 1996 at the request of African Mayors seeking to tackle urban crime and violence in their cities.

This is only two examples I am familiar with where effective strategy has enhanced health and well being for women and girls and societies in general.

Nnenna Nwakanwa said "the most important thing of all is to have head knowledge and hand knowledge."

I believe this is the foundation rock all that we do in this world must be built on.

Topic 8.   Studies Suggest that a third of disease burden among children is due to environment factors we can change. What can you do to make others more aware of the changes that are already in reach? Describe ways you can raise awareness. Try one and report.

2014 in New Zealand we held elections to determine who would be the political party to lead our country for the next three years. Many of us challenged the parties to increase overseas aid. Of 11 parties questioned 8 responded saying they were committed to reaching the internationally agreed target of 0.7% of GNI which would more than double the present aid budget.

It is now important for us to follow through with our current National Government to insist that they honour this particular pre-election promise.

My husband and I are members of CWS New Zealand. This is Christian World Service who is a member of the CID (Council for International Development). CID exists to support effective high quality aid and development programmes, with the vision of achieving a sustainable world free from poverty and injustice. Christchurch, New Zealand is where CWS is based. A place that has experienced its own earthquake disaster and is much more aware of the difficulties of recovery.

This Christmas season we have been supporting the theme "Build Hope for tomorrow."

As a family we have purchased 10 school kits for children who are not able to afford basic educational equipment. Professor McGuire said "that education was the route to freedom."

As a Church we make our Christmas Day offering totally devoted to CWS.

The featured partners this year are to include giving young people skills in Gaza.

Building peace between workers in Sri Lanka.

Supporting start-ups for displaced people in South Sudan.

Equipping schools for rural communities in Haiti.

Giving hope with each plant in Tonga.

During the month of December we had the foyer of the Riverton Union Church decorated so people could give donations to the gift of their choice. We labelled tins with the option of gifts available and people placed their money in the appropriate tin.

Options included, education kits, water, micronutrients for children, seeds, trees, wells, birthing kits, mosquito nets, goats, developing a small business, community gardens etc.

This gave our folk the "freedom to choose thoughtfully." Another important point made in our lectures.

Our research suggests that giving from New Zealand through our local CWS as a reputable, established and world wide organization we have the best chance of our donation going to where it is promised.

At this stage I am unable to report the exact amount our small Riverton Church Faith community will contribute in total.

I know we made a huge effort to promote aid visually and interestingly. Our Church was busy over the month of December. We have made the best effort possible to think of those who have little at Christmas time when we have much.



Apple Orchard Project

Absolutely delighted with the Country Calendar programme tonight 22nd August.

It reflected well what is happening in Riverton.  This project is known all round the world. Many of the heritage apples discovered have been lost in their country of origin.  Some are being returned to England, France and other countries to be regrown there.

Others are growing happily in our special Riverton Orchard and an area of land near Invercargill.    Sales continue to grow each year as more cuttings become available.


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Coursera Songwriting RSS

I am half way through the Coursera songwriting course from Berklee Music School, Boston.  Learning how to write the words at the moment.  Prosody forms the basis.  Line lengths, the number of lines creates a stable or unstable verse or chorus.  Rhyme and how one can utilize rhyme types other than just perfect rhyme adds to ones ability to move between ideas.

Before the course finishes (6 weeks) we will have written a song, added the music and uploaded to sound cloud.

Some technical challenges to complete that task but I think I have it worked out.



Coursera Song Writing from Berklee College of Music, Boston

 I am positive there is folk around the Connexion who would

make very good songwriters.

 This 6 week course was fascinating, informative and fun.

In brief the lessons were as follows:

1. The Journey of the song - how to develop song ideas

2. Stopping and going - understanding prosody as it relates to the number of lines and line lengths, musical phrases, stable and unstable.

3. Sonic GPS - mapping your song with rhyme and a variety of rhyme schemes.

4. Making it move - putting in rhythm, stressed and unstressed syllables.

5. Writing the song - write new lyrics and set to music. Create the melody.

6. Redo last weeks song understanding phrasing and using musical beat to create stability and instability.

I needed approximately 6 hours a week to make a fairly good effort at understanding the video lectures and completing the assignments. You do not need any previous musical experience.

The technical side meant downloading audacity (pc) or garage band (mac) both free to access.

With audacity the plug in LAME was also needed to convert your work to MP4 files.

Opening a free space in Soundcloud and uploading your work to there. You can store all your music for free here instead of loading up your computer or smartphone with music.

I am very happy to assist anyone with the technical requirements.

There was a group of about 100 Christian Songwriters from all round the world in the class.

Wonderful to be able to study from the best Tutors in the world in the comfort of your own home.

You can do all Coursera courses without a fee. If you want verification of your work the cost is $45.

First two attempts at songs

Weeks 3 and 4 have been very busy.  We have learned about stable and unstable elements.  Stressed and unstressed syllables.  The importance of using language with rhythm as though it is being spoken.  ie  The stressed syllable in the correct place of the music structure.  The various types of rhyme available for use.  Quite a lot to put together.

The first song had to have an unstable verse and stable chorus.

This means the verse should sound unfinished and the chorus finished.  The elements of the other things learnt had to be included.

You can hear it via this link

The second song attempt had to have a stable verse and an unstable chorus.

They are not great but it is interesting to learn about the structure of songwriting,  

Third effort with more to include.



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Far Country Correspondent | Riverton RSS

A journal of our communities of meaning

Another Power Point Lesson

David and Goliath

Able to complete LIMS

Two lovely ladies ventured south to Riverton (a first for them) to spend the day with Rachael Masterton and myself.  It was a big and busy day with a great deal for us to take in and learn.

Te Aroha Rountree  and Keita Hotere came and took us through the Maori Studies/Cultural component we were required to do to complete our course and graduate  in March.

We really appreciated their visit and the  wealth of experience they had at their fingertips.  A well put together powerpoint  lesson plan was prepared for us to follow.

Thanks to all who made this possible.

Secets of a Mancave

22/23 May Riverton Union Church will turn itself into a Mancave.

So often when we display things  it is the handwork and creativity that women do.  Not so this time it is an all male domain.

We are about to find out what secret activities the male population get up to.

Jeremy Beech, a member of a Motor Cycle Group called 'Warriors of Zion' is bringing some of his team and their motorbikes.  The team will stay over the weekend and meet with Boys Brigade and anyone interested.  He will be guest speaker on Sunday morning.




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Methodist Studies 2 RSS

Reflections and forums from the CTH201,202 course

Christian Perfection

Text:  Philippians 3:12  I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection!  I keep working toward that day.......

His aim in this sermon seems to be two-fold.  To show in what sense Christians aren't perfect and in what sense they are.

He pointed out that we are not perfect in our knowledge.  Christ was tempted so are we.  We are not free from ignorance or mistakes.  He  thought there was no absolute perfection on earth.

To show in what sense Christians are perfect he saw the day of Pentecost as the turning point for Christians.  God's Kingdom is now set up on earth.  Christian perfection hinges totally on grace.  The love of God and the love of each other.  We need to grow daily in this love.  The grace of God was sufficient for the Apostles to do amazing things for their Master and Lord and it is sufficient for us.  He used verses from 1st and 2nd Corinthians  that suggest we are not tempted above what we can bear.  Christ's strength is made perfect in weakness.  For when I am weak - then I am strong.

Christian perfection for him did not mean sinless.  He believed Christians could reach a state of Christian maturity governed by the love of God and each other.  Perfect love operates in a sinful world.  As the hymn line says "made perfect first in love and sanctified by grace."

"Christianity is essentially a social religion and to turn it into a solitary one is to destroy it."

I remember after some particularly difficult weeks within the environment of a workplace where colleagues were continually inappropriately treating a disabled child and I seemed unable to stop or alter their behaviour, deciding very firmly that the easiest way to practice Christianity was within a holy order living and moving and breathing with only like-minded thinking people.  I was ready to make a conscious decision to live alone with God.  Provided I could  take Ernest and the Dog with me!

In terms of achieving anywhere near Christian perfection, getting out of this world and away from the influence and affects of others and being totally with Christians all focused on God must be a better and easier way.

However,  not so says John Wesley and not so would agree Jesus.

The centre of the gospel message is love.  The love of God and that love overflowing in compassionate love extended to those we come in contact with.  Jesus and John Wesley showed us in practical terms how to love the poor, the sick, the marginalized - anyone in need of a touch or kind word centred on care. 

Christianity if it is to be a "light to the world" or "salt of the earth"  has to be lived within the environment of the world where it can be in stark contrast to the normal human self-centred  lifestyle.  Jesus lived within the group that circled him but moved and worked within the people at large. 

John Wesley in a sense broke from the traditional Church to be able to minister to those who did not go to the established Church.  His famous statement "the whole world is my parish" summed up in his faith filled actions.  In the beginning his Ministry and Missionary endeavours were unhappy experiences.  When the grace and love of God became alive in his life he found how God could and would use him in remarkable ways.

The life of a Christian is not an escape, withdrawal or removal from ordinary life amongst ordinary people.   It is a call to rise above that human characteristic of I and Me at the centre and everything revolving around and focussing on oneself. 

Strange as it may sound and seem we have to loose ourselves to find ourselves.

Some folk believe the theory that the Christian era is over and the era of Humanism has been entered.  If this is so then it is a sad period for the whole world and the Christian influence of compassionate love is needed to be the salt and light of the world now more than  ever.

"For God's love to go on we must make it our song.  You and I be the singers."

3 entries