I'll confess right at the outset that I am an Australian (though I'm hoping this might be overlooked because I currently live in Switzerland). I'm writing because earlier this year I had the great privilege of visiting your beautiful Kapiti Coast.
On the one hand, much of what I saw was extremely inspiring. On the other hand, some of what I saw reminded me of so many worrying trends I have observed elsewhere in the world. I am talking here primarily of the national government's planned motorway through your communities – but I am also talking about the systems and the kind of thinking which can lead to such projects in the first place.
I have no desire to meddle in New Zealand politics, but it seems to me one of the simplest and best political anti-dotes or anti-venoms for such a case of social dis-ease are individuals with proven track records of being able to create social well-being; individuals with strong, flexible thinking who are able to penetrate through to actual social realities, who have the courage to change whole ways of doing things, and who thereby help and support communities to be all that they can be.
While in Kapiti I had the great opportunity to speak with many people, including Doris Zuur. Over the last 20 years or so, Doris has built not only a very healthy school in Raumati South, she has helped build, support and serve an entire community. Lately, as the whole of Kapiti is challenged by the motorway and all that created it, I have observed online that Doris has helped facilitate a pro-active response and suggest more sustainable options for the community as a whole (see the Alliance for Sustainable Kapiti).
Everything I have observed points to the fact that Doris stands for an alternative story for Kapiti – not a story in which communities are cut in half by the black snake of a motorway, and the black snake of the kind of backroom deals and thinking that created it – but a story in which the healing, healthy light of community determines what takes place in its own backyard, acting as it does so as a beacon for sustainability, future-thinking and real community spirit for the rest of the country and for the rest of the world.
I only wish I was a New Zealander so I could vote in the upcoming elections! (This may be the first and last time you hear an Australian utter such words.)
John Stubley PhD.