We’re so thankful to be parked on land next door to La Hacienda. The gardens are overflowing with the fruit of the labour of the past occupants. It’s simply a matter of eating what is ripening in front of us!

Bush Fairy Dairy, March 2011
We've been camping just down the road from the Bush Fairy Dairy on Oruru Road.

Our campsite at La Hacienda, April 2011
Our little campsite is on a completely different block of land, separated by a huge hedge of bamboo and a little stream.

Calista jumping on the trampoline, March 2011
The girls were thrilled to discover a trampoline tucked away in one corner of the garden.

Our truck is parked adjacent to a caravan with a built-on annexe. A family with two young children lived here permanently until the beginning of this year. There’s water on tap and electricity with which to plug in. It was Simon and Susan who established the ripening vegie patch, and we’re so thankful for their contributions to our lives!

David cooking at the caravan, April 2011
We've used the outside kitchen facilities that were already set up at the caravan while we've been camped here.

In the garden with Johnny, March 2011
The girls immediately sampled some of the vegetables that they picked with Johnny.

Aisha and Johnny in the garden, March 2011
Johnny is so knowledgeable about all the plants that grow around his property.

David and Calista, 3yo, March 2011
Although she's now three, Cali still likes to pretend she's her Daddy's baby girl.

Aisha in an outside tub-bath, March 2011
We've been enjoying tub baths with a kettle of hot water added to warm it up.

Our girls in the caravan, March 2011
The girls have loved playing in the caravan and have even asked to sleep in it overnight.

Although we’re not unpacking into the caravan, the girls have loved playing in the extra under-cover space. Whenever we’re at our campsite, the girls also yearn for the opportunity to return to Johnny’s house and play with him.

Aisha and Calista playing with Johnny, March 2011
Our girls have enjoyed an instant rapport with Johnny — he's one of those special people who addresses children as people in their own right.

Johnny, March 2011
Johnny is so generous with his property, welcoming itinerants and community members to share with what he's established.

One of the chief attractions of La Hacienda is Johnny. He’s lived here for seven years, daily investing his passion into the property. His vision for the communal property is to make it a community events centre. He would love the house to be a drop-in zone where locals come together to share ideas and work on projects.

Already this is happening. People gather at the sound stage in the shed. The office facilities in the house attract people who need to use the computer or the internet. Others make use of the washing machine. Friends drop in daily with vegies, fruit, honey or meat.

Brioni's writing on the wall, March 2011
After eliciting promises from Johnny for some fun activities, Brioni wrote them on his chalkboard so we'd all remember them.

Painting with Johnny, March 2011
Johnny has been enthusiastic about craft and brought out paints for the girls to make beautiful pictures.

Painting with Johnny, March 2011
Aisha tries to pursue a very realistic style with most of her pictures.

Aisha playing on stage at La Hacienda's shed, April 2011
On jam nights, this stage comes alive with musicians and singers.

One of the previous occupants of our caravan site is Simon Kaiwai, and he articulated the principles of a local fiscal cooperative called the Koha Cooperative. Although the Koha Co-op seeks to formalise and institutionalise a system of money-free local trade, during our time at La Hacienda, we observed the principles already at work — without a structure holding everyone accountable.

During our days here, we’ve seen how the people staying at La Hacienda work freely for each other — giving each other a full day’s work without payment. Sometimes goods are traded, sometimes work is traded, sometimes it just gets passed on and comes back around eventually. But it all evens out because it is initiated in the right spirit, in the spirit of love — of loving your neighbour as yourself. It’s amazing to see how these very simple principles of Jesus really work!

The bridge to La Hacienda, April 2011
We cross over a little stream to reach the main section that has Johnny's house, the housebus and the shed.

Morepork at La Hacienda, April 2011
There's a morepork (a local owl) that resides on a tree very close to the wooden bridge.

Girls running through the bamboo, March 2011
At the other end of the block, a secret tunnel leads the way through the bamboo.

During our time here, we’ve made ourselves useful, working when there are jobs to be done and contributing to the food preparation and household chores. It’s been a joy to work outside on small projects and tidy up around the place. We’re glad that we can contribute to the peaceful existence of La Hacienda and hope that our small contribution keeps the place running as it needs to so it can share the love with others!