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Te Aorewa Feature-01
April 8, 2019 | by  | in Features Splash |
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Grassroots Connections

A lecturer once said to the students in my course that “you don’t have to be feeling the grass” in order to start caring about the environment. I think what they were implying was that you don’t have to be free-spirited, bush-oriented, or embody the life of a ‘hippie’ in order to start caring about the places we live in. You just need to be aware of what’s real and what’s important and essentially, you need to know what you feel connected to.


Sure, we have access to heaps of exciting and entertaining avenues in the capital: retail stores, museums, theatre shows, tiny cafés, restaurants, tattoo studios, bars, bowling clubs—it’s all here, with open arms, ready to deplete your StudyLink income.


But, e te whānau, with the ever-present brick wall of mental health always seeking to add more challenges to our stressed, sleep-deprived lives, sometimes what we need is a simple escape. We all crave a break from the concrete jungle; the smell of familiar fumes and the sight of cold slabs can often cloud the head.


Indigenous or non-indigenous, land or sea—this humongous sphere of a globe we’ve overtaken, and pretty much trashed, still has (and will always have) a valuable contribution to our existence as individuals and as a society.


Whether it’s having an environmental connection where protecting the world’s resources is important, a cultural connection where the environment is the key to your livelihood, or an emotional connection where we feel a sense of release and rejuvenation—whatever the nature of the relationship, Mother Earth offers a lot when we least realise. Perhaps we are still yet to discover the essence of what it’s all worth.


If you’re anything like me, it’s the simple stuff that matters: Taking a hike up the local maunga, braving the waters of the moana, or taking in the view from somewhere serene. These often spontaneous acts of freedom give meaning and purpose to our lives.


Nō reira, e hoa mā, let us go through some easy, breezy spaces and places where you can get a dose of nature and its many tāonga, because as much as our generation seems to be stuck within the universe of fast-typing and double-clicking, there are still those who choose to gain their satisfaction elsewhere—or in other words, ^out there^.





  1. Mount Street Cemetery—This spot may contain more than 320 tombstones, but this is a space full of potential and calming wairua. Trees, grass, and a view overlooking the city. The convenient location of the cemetery makes it a popular destination for students and staff to escape the concrete jungle. Take your mates, take a seat in the shrub, and chat away, surrounded by the best company (if you know what I mean). The unconventional surroundings may be odd at first, but soon enough, the historical and spiritual mood of the space will ease the mind, for sure.  


  1. Te Herenga Waka Marae—

Nau mai haere mai,

Harakeke bushes, Kawakawa plants, and the sweet symphony of the tūī bird ringing throughout. Here’s a space that provides all the goods when it comes to finding somewhere stress-free and textbook-empty. Plus, if another big earthshaker ever hits Wellington, you can count on this wāhi to keep you covered. Lie back and do some cloud-watching, get your yoga poses out, or have a tītiro at the beaming whare with its array of whakairo woven across the panels. The doors are always open, and trust me, you don’t have to be Māori to take it all in.


  1. The ‘Botans’—Here is a majestic home of flowers and picnic blankets of candescent green. Let your eyes scan some of the small parts of Papatūānuku, sprinkled with latent paths and fortuitous park benches. This hideaway steps away from the frenzy of scrunched-up paper and expensive fine-tip pens, and takes you to a place which feeds the student desire to ‘go walk-about’. Stray a couple minutes or stray a while—it’s up to you. There’s plenty of space to cover as the generous 25 ha of native plant life gives you the time to make it through a playlist or two without feeling like you’ve got people to see and things to do.




  1. Midland Park—Midland Park is a place you don’t want to miss. Tucked in the middle of a courtyard, shielded by the outstretched arms of swaying trees, it’s easy to forget about the swarm of sleek suites and tilting coffee mugs you dodged to get there. Each park bench is accompanied by its own humble panel of shade, and maybe a pigeon or two. With the subtle humming of café music planted in the background, Midland does wonders by providing an easy escape in close proximity to the station and bus terminals (for when it’s time to return to lectures and life quotes on your laptop).


  1. Parliament ‘Beehive’ lawn—It’s a place of big decisions and even bigger stone sculptures. The banana, the mushroom, and possibly what looks like a carrot are just an intro to what can be found here. A sea of lush green and lofty trees set the tone for a much-needed chill session. With well-maintained lawns and eye-catching historical buildings, the Beehive lawn makes you want to roll amongst it. Pack a picnic, take a stroll—nothing seems limitless here. It’s a generous taste of natural surroundings within the hecticness of the city. The only big decisions you’ll have to make is when to leave.




  1. Te Aro campus ‘Cobblestone Park’—Artists, thinkers, creators—Te Aro campus has them all, and Cobblestone Park is undoubtedly the central hangout. Cobblestone Park is a laid-back and lively cocoon within the city’s hustle and bustle. Kai and catch-ups with friends is ideal here, as shops and stores are all within close proximity. Find your place on the fresh grass, chuck the earpods on, flick through a couple pages of your next good read and soak up what little sun Te Whanganui-a-Tara has to offer.


  1. Glover Park—Let this space give you that quick fix of the outdoors we all crave, e hoa mā. Here, you can chill in the somewhat serene environment off of Ghuznee Street. The energy and life of the place certainly uplifts your āhua. There’s always going to be something worth seeing down here at Glover Park, and you can always stroll down to the buses nearby when you need. But let this space medicate your fatigue and all the procrastination-based regrets. All you need to do is just simply sit and rest in the carefree atmosphere.


Friends, whānau, and fellow students all over—keep your friends close and the environment closer, because there is an abundance of greenery within our city well worth the effort of finding. There are also numerous tracks and pathways carved throughout the uni, which offer the best remedy for any scrapes to our overall hauora that we may have collected through the year so far. Take the chance to detach from the worries and perplexities that come from trying to navigate the windy path of student life. Try your luck at one or more of these useful wāhi.


I think we’ve all discovered by now that it’s a hard life out there. Nō reira, stay focused, stay hungry, and keep up the tireless mahi.


Kia kaha, e te whānau

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