by Peter Matheson
It's New Year's Eve, well on the way to midnight. Folk are either
snoring already or bottle-deep in celebration. And what do I hear?
The siren for the fire brigade. There was another equally late call a
couple of days later, if I remember right.
I thought of the dash people would have to make down to the fire
station, exactly when one wouldn't want to be there. On New Year's
Eve, for goodness sake! The thought of perhaps a horrific car accident
waiting. It spurred me into thinking about the extraordinary
commitment and skills of our volunteer fire brigade, always on call,
which maybe we take for granted far too much.
And then to reflect on all the other voluntary groups that flourish
in Blueskin Bay. Quite remarkable really when one begins to tot them
up: Surf Life Savers. The organizers of the Film Evenings. The sports
events. The Youth Group. The A&P Society. The buzz of activities
around the Library, the Schools, the Playcentres. The Waitati
Militia. All the social events. The gardening initiatives. The energy
issues. I've probably omitted lots of others others. I wonder, though,
is there any other little community that can boast such a variety of
groups with such expertise and commitment? This newsletter itself, of
course, is a major initiative which keeps us in touch with one
Most of us, I suppose, only have close knowledge of one or two of the
various groups. A recent visit to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary reminded
me of all the voluntary work that poured into that place, often from
local folk. But what a miracle it is now! So many dreams realized. So
much hard slog. One aspect of community life I happen to know is the
Whare Wananga in Waitati, another largely voluntary group with a
regional and national reputation for the stellar quality of its
weaving and traditional arts and crafts and for its caritative work
with young people. Aroha pours out of the place.
I began with these sirens on New Year's Eve. I guess all I'm saying
is that as a relative newcomer here it has nudged me into realizing
how fortunate we are by Blueskin Bay. People talk, quite rightly,
about the collapse of community, and of loss of social capital
throughout New Zealand. We seem to have some of the answers here. Is
there something in the water? Something we could export elsewhere? Not
to be taken for granted, anyway.
From blueskin.co.nz and 'Blueskin News' published by Blueskin Media:
voluntary/non-profit community publishers in Blueskin Bay (Seacliff,
Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point), Dunedin, New Zealand.
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