Kiwi poet James K Baxter explained the Māori word ‘mahi’ as ‘work undertaken for communal love’. Its a great perspective. As a phrase ‘community work’ or ‘volunteering’ doesn’t quite capture it. Mahi is earthy, practical, hands-on, effort made with aroha, or love, in good spirit towards a community.
In the outdoor community, there is plenty of mahi going on. There are those who run clubs to help people get to know the hills, there are those that run trap-lines to care for our unique biodiversity, and growing again in importance over the last few years has been the broad movement of people getting involved with maintaining and caring for our huts and tracks.
The Outdooor Recreation Consortium, which consists of Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and Trailfund NZ, has been collaborating with the Department of Conservation to cover costs for individuals and groups keen to get their hands dirty. So far, over 1000 people have contributed over 25,000 hours to maintain close to 100 huts and 500 kilometres of track, but make no mistake, it is the culture that counts not the statistics. Get a taste of this on the Outdoor Recreation Consortium’s project blog.
From the Kaimai Range, where hunters and trampers are collaborating to maintain 7 huts and 150 kilometres of track (and build several more backcountry huts) – that’s them above scheming further progress in a recent workshop – to Ivory Lake Hut high in the Southern Alps where kayakers and climbers are collaborating to protect and enhance this alpine shrine – see the photo essay from Warren Chin below – there is great stuff going. And why? Because people want to contribute. As an expression of freedom from their 9 to 5, as a way to develop friendships and community. Just cause huts and tracks matter to them. Get involved. The next round of Outdoor Recreation Consortium funding closes on the 30th September. Apply for funding here.