(Friday evening, 30th May- Monday lunch, 2nd June)
This weekend is seen as a tradition for the Quaker Settlement, with the community residents and visitors working alongside each other to complete a wide variety of tasks,which residents can’t achieve alone. Although some of the work is maintenance, much of the focus is on progressing some longer-term projects such as the native forestation in the far valley.
This year more than 70 participants including eight 11-15 year olds first gathered and shared what had brought them here. “A highlight for my calendar”, “not to be missed” and “I had such a great time last year” were some of the responses. “Curiosity”, “friends” and a “wish for connection with the Settlement” brought a number of newcomers. All came willing to contribute their time and labour, within their capabilities and skills, resulting in a wonderfully productive and enjoyable weekend.
Each morning we began with Meeting for Worship, followed by a brief ʻsinging startʻ to warm us up for working. Although our work scattered us in groups across the whole settlement, we gathered again at meal times and breaks.
Many of the tasks were familiar options offered annually: potting up tree seedlings sourced from our nearby Bushy Park predator fenced forest sanctuary, tree releasing, harakeke (flax) collection maintenance, gardening, wood chipping, tree planting, fencing repairs and some chain-sawing.
This year also included building a beautiful hexagonal low platform at the top of the highest sand dune, with views of the South Island, and plenty of sky.
Others cooked up feasts to nurture us, and entertained with music as we worked.
There were opportunities to explore the Settlement land, and on Saturday night residents shared a slide show and presentation, which described some of the many different aspects of the Settlement as a Quaker educational centre and as a thriving small community.
Sunday evening we enjoyed a wonderful concert, followed by some Scottish Country Dancing for those with energy to spare, and conversations by the fire.
This weekend continues to be a great way to gather all ages, enjoy being part of a Quaker community for a weekend, and be a part of the Quaker Settlement moving towards our aspirations of living our Quaker testimonies and “letting our lives speak”.