Second Edition - March 2011


Welcome to our second edition of our newsletter with a collection of stories

In this issue Tracks chairperson Jim Horton offers an insightful history of the gestation and development of Tracks in Golden Bay, describing the region's learnings of what it takes to build a strong Tracks community. While we all know and agree that people are our most important and richest resource, we often underestimate what it takes to develop a site for hosting a Rite of Passage Experience. 

We also received a number of personal stories from the regions and members of our community - Young Men, Trackers and fathers.

Our aim is to have a newsletter three times a year. This may not be the final form of the newsletter yet as we keep experimenting with format and layout. So we welcome your feedback as well as your contributions to the next issue.

I am delighted to have been given the  role as the magazine editor, which helps to keep me in touch with the soul of Tracks work - while spending most of my other working hours as Tracks business manager.

Please keep sending your stories and feedback to

With all good wishes - nga mihi nui

Maria Koch 

P.S. Our thoughts are with the people of Canterbury who are now facing the aftermath of the latest earthquake. We keep them in our prayers.


The Rite of Passage Experience (ROPE)

Jim Horton, Chairperson

There are many rites of passages that are woven into the everyday fabric of our lives. Joseph Campbell, an eminent mythologist, determined that there is a similar structure to all rites of passages in all cultures, ancient and modern.

He proposed a model for rites of passage called The Hero’s Journey.  At the beginning we are deciding if we are going to embrace this challenge. This is followed by a time when we cross that 'Threshold of Adventure' into an initiation period of trials and tests, which lead to one or more of the four major challenges (see diagram), through which we may pass to a place of inner peace.

Here we are granted from our experience a 'boon' (a gift/knowing), which may help us in our living journey. The final stage of The Hero’s Journey is deciding to carry this boon back across the threshold of adventure to re-invent our lives. If we do this consciously, he described us as being 'Master of Two Worlds'.

All of these stages can be greatly assisted if we have champions (mentors, friends, parents) who can help us to witness our journey and know where we stand on the circular path of our Hero’s Journey: if we are moving forward, retreating or refusing to acknowledge a challenge that we are facing.

Of course, our Hero’s Journey is ongoing and is a lifelong process. It can involve many challenges: some small, only lasting an hour or a couple of minutes, such as deciding to tell one’s truth in a difficult circumstance; or some much bigger and lifelong, i.e a disability such as deafness.

I dare say that everyone is involved in many a Hero’s Journeys at any one time and at various stages: beginning, middle or ending. Being witnessed and acknowledged by a person we respect, from the stories we tell them of our journey, is an important part of life. Being blessed for the success or the way we have handled failure, or the challenges we have faced, is vital for our growth: particularly when we are young and inexperienced. Such witnessing and acknowledgement is especially essential during childhood and adolescence.

This is some of the background from which Tracks Rites of Passage Experience (ROPE) for boys becoming young men has developed.

During the Tracks event we seek to witness, acknowledge, honour and bless that what we see in each boy. And so we create an ongoing series of rituals (challenges, ceremonies, experiences) during the five days together in nature, around a fire, in circle, to do this. With as little everyday distractions as possible from cellphones, TV, internet, sugar, drugs and alcohol, it provides time out, liminal space, friendship, a place to speak and to listen, to sing songs, to speak poems, a space for theatre, stories, humour, laughter, bonding, colour and caring.


Building Tracks Communities – The History of Tracks

 Jim Horton, Chairperson

Rite of Passage Experiences (ROPEs) are born out of a need to match the various stages of growth and emergence of individuals into their roles within their communities. Historically, ROPEs of all kinds, in all cultures, and at all ages have originated from the family, community, tribe and village: the bones of the nation, upon which hang our everyday lives and relationships.

The Rite of Passage Experience that Tracks chose was from boyhood into becoming a young man, from childhood into adulthood. An experience aimed at young boys and their fathers seeking to hold exciting, challenging events based in nature, which birth friendship, brotherhood and manhood; producing good young men that imbue the sort of leadership that can eventually evolve into becoming a well-rounded parent.  

The forms and definitions of family and whanau are in constant change and evolution as we strive to live with ourselves and our loved ones in the contemporary western world. Inevitably therefore, Tracks Rite of Passage is a whole family experience -  involving every relative, from mum and dad and siblings to aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and friends. Four out of five NZ families are single parented and/or blended families (the nuclear family espoused of marriage i.e. man, wife and the children of their same unison has become almost a mythical entity). Therefore most families involve step-parents and/or other relationship dynamics.

What is common to all of us is the need to grow and change as communities, as families and as individuals. Change and growth are constants which are with us always. This  can be very exciting, but also challenging and confusing for young people today. Hence how Tracks for young men came to be.

What works for setting up a Rite of Passage Experience?

To do this I can only refer to our story of the Golden Bay - Karaka Tribe -, where we have come from and where we are now. We have travelled and researched other programmes and  have a library of video interviews from several countries, which were part of our inspiration in starting out 10 years ago with Tracks.

The programme also evolved out of the Tui Intentional Community (which is 26 years old and still evolving to this day) and the 20 or so young people at that time, our sons and daughters. It was nurtured by the educated management of our qualified youth worker Adge Tucker, who carefully guided its evolution; in recent times by Dr. Maria Koch, who provided Tracks with a deeper structure and policy framework; and by the support and governance of our trustees along the way.

Before Tracks began, a vibrant men’s week-long wilderness gathering was developing here in Wainui Bay, which soon moved onto Tui Community land (the Treefield - a growing woodlot). The story began as a village of 'hunter gatherers', who built their own structures to live in and used the bush kitchen, compost toilets and the pentacle sacred space (which we use today), which was a legacy from the men’s gathering. During the 90s there was also a vibrant women’s gathering and a men and women’s gathering culture with up to 70 to 80 participants per event. It was at one of these that the Youth Stick was blessed and intentions were made with our sword to begin the Rites of Passage work.

After that, intense years of experimentation followed in the emerging Treefield (the Tui Events Park) and on other sites in Kaikoura and Anatoki, as we tried many different forms of rituals, crafts such as carving and forging and other processes from rock climbing to vision quest.

Gradually we found out what worked and what was important. We sent our leaders to other programs such as ‘Pathways to Manhood’ in Auckland and Australia.  Over the years, other events and programmes, rituals and ceremonies came and went. Gradually the ROPE programme became clearer.

 There was much detail, experiment and experience along the way, and as you can imagine there were many hilarious and heart-stopping moments with a lot of work and deep rewards. ROPE is definitely a journey and not a destination as in life. Every ROPE affects around 150 people (at least 50 for GMMT), even if they make an informed decision not to take part in the actual Rite of Passage event. It is a labour of loving excitement, of work and play, of elation and angst. 

In the Treefield, an ablutions building 'the washanui' and a sewage system were built, costing more than $100,000, which was funded by the Tui Spiritual & Educational Trust (TSET) about seven years ago. The original bush kitchen was  replaced about five years ago with the Treehouse, which includes a kitchen,  pantry, fire-room (inside) and an 8 m sprung dancefloor, which was funded from another $100,000 gifted to TSET by the Susan Jessie Family Trust. Along the way, one of our founding trustees, Eric Spiekerman, had died and left us a legacy enabling us to have our tipis and the pentacle made, which were used as a men’s space and are now being used in Thames.

The calendar of events in the Treefield spans on average 80 to 100 days a year with Tracks and Tides events occupying about 50 days and GMMT, Tides training weekends and council events occupying the rest. The Treefield has made a self-sustaining profit for 10 years and offers a venue that three other charitable trusts make use of. It hosts events which range from the three-week long Aeteoroa Earthcare programme, Blooming Sisters, Men’s Gatherings and Earth Spirit Retreats to dance, yoga, weddings, birthdays and Tui Community celebrations. It has the capacity to hold other events throughout the year and provides a wonderful space for groups of people wanting to hold such events.

One of these successful and growing events that take place at the Treefield has just finished as I write: 'The Men’s and Womens Heart Sharing'. An event, which started casually four years ago and is aimed particularly at families (with childcare arranged during the morning and evening circles). It provides an opportunity for men and women (either in relationship or single) to face each other across the fire and speak from their heart. It can be quite deep work and  is facilitated by elders and experienced people. In between the morning and evening circles, the afternoons provide times for families to mix and create space for themselves and can involve dance, play or craftwork.

The event is also held here mid-winter, and inside the fire room if it is a bit nippy. At this last event, just past, 26 people (and children) attended. I can imagine that this is a great event, which could be replicated across the regions to build community there also. It lends itself to creative process but has the ‘held circle’ as a good foundation and structure.


Report from the Regions

Stephen Evans, Christchurch

Kia’ora whanau,

The second part of 2010 has been an interesting one to say the least. Paul and I headed two successful circles and the Christchurch flames began to rise with the strength of old and new faces.  Then the ground started to shake and has been rumbling ever since September. 

 This has bThis the road round the corner from my house.een quite overwhelming for many people in Christchurch and certainly disrupted any momentum  we had gathered. I for one had to relocate to temporary housing and I am still unsure of my old house's fate.  We keep experiencing some big aftershocks and the city centre was roped off, more bricks fell and people were evacuated from malls and many stores.

 This the road round the corner from my house.

This seems to be symbolic of the Tracks journey here to get a rites of passage event under our belt. At least twice now it has appeared quite likely and then circumstances, changes of heart or acts of God seem to get in the way. 

In addition to the earthquakes, our good friend Paul who along with me has been co-leading and energizing a new team, set off for an adventure woofing around NZ with his family at the end of October.  Recently I have heard of a potential site for a rite of passage in Little River and have bumped into Tracks men and contacted ones I still know for a fire circle in mid January.  It is my intention to then identify who has the passion and desire to make rites of passage a reality here.

Some promotion work is on the cards for summer and hopefully over the next month we can move forward with a core group of dedicated and passionate men who can hold the energy for the Tracks magic here in Canterbury.  

 The Okuti river runs through the potential site for a Canterbury Rites

Lots of love to our brothers in all regions and our sisters at Tides in Golden Bay.

Ka kite, 



New Young Man - Report on October 2010

Josh Sokolov-Pearson (16)

I think my Tracks Rite of Passage has been one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Particularly the sense of brotherhood between me and the other men participating was incredibly important to me, especially since my dad died and so I don’t get to spend that much time around men whom I really respect and admire.

 The changes I made in myself and in my life on the Rite of Passage were immense and I will forever be grateful to those who helped bring them about.
I highly recommend the Rite of Passage programme to all young men and their fathers. I cannot get enough and am attending every Tracks event I possibly can.       



Tracker's Report

Ben Kleinsman-Hill 

These holidays have been pretty laid back, apart from walking across the Ruahines with dad and Mikhail. These were pretty intense two days, with walking through veritable forests of ongaonga (native stinging nettle), but we were rewarded with awesome views from the ridges, and at one hut I saw a nesting pair of blue ducks, whio.

With Christmas coming up, I realized a few days ago that I should start finding presents for friends and family.

Also happening recently was another taekwondo grading, at which I successfully gained blue belt. At the moment I am working on a competition for character design for Minigore, which is ending on the 31st of December.

Keep Well




A Father's Report on The Rite of Passage, October 2010

John Hudson

Tracks ... When my son Nick came home from school and said he would like to go to Tracks, it was the first time I had heard of it. His interest had come about as a result of a talk at school from a Tracker, a term I was to become familiar with over the coming weeks. This Tracker was an older pupil at Nick’s school, and had been on the Tracks course several times. He loved it and his enthusiasm rubbed off in his talk to other students. Within a few short weeks, Nick and I were heading to Abel Tasman National Park to join the spring Tracks programme.

Arriving at Totaranui, the programme started in the way that it was to proceed for the week: structured and with a dedication to good process.  My initial expectations and concerns were recorded in an interview with the course founder and manager just after we arrived. He did the same at the end of the programme, which gave me the opportunity to see whether my expectations had been met.
Having exposed myself to a wide range of outdoor challenges through my life, I was concerned whether Tracks would concentrate too much on physical exhaustion as a means of extending the boys beyond their current comfort zones. Another concern was the potential for emotional manipulation of a group of impressionable young people through group hype and peer pressure.

At the end of the week, I was pleased to say that neither was the case. The programme was based on an open and simple structure of building community, sharing expectations, honouring individual strengths, and setting future goals. Each day focused around one of these themes, building on the previous day’s work and activities. The actual activities unfold on a daily basis, maintaining the mystery and excitement of the unknown.

The organisers ask that people who have been through the programme not to let on what the activities are. This is not to protect the furtive practices of some secret society. It is simply to maintain the mystery for new participants, so that they experience the challenges of each day as the programme unfolds. The structure and process takes care of their questions as the week develops.

And what are the results? Initial obvious changes in Nick were an increase in self-belief and awareness – not just self-awareness but more particularly awareness of others and their needs. Some months on and these changes have become more entrenched. A more confident, considerate and aware young man, thinking of others and of the abilities that he himself has. Realisation of his own self worth has improved, as has his dependability. One of the sayings at Tracks is ‘don’t go back to sleep’. To date, he has remained awake, and by all indications, is very much staying this way.

Tracks has been a thoroughly beneficial experience that has had a significant and very beneficial impact on his development as a young man. I totally recommend it.



Another Father's Report

Matiu Te Huki

Kia ora tatou, greetings to us all.

As a father of a boy doing Tracks for the first time, and as a man who'd never been through any such ancient, magical, powerful, healing journey, I was blown away by the whole package.

From the majestic locations to the people behind and in front, the leaders especially, it was a recipe for all the elements to come together and do their thing.

I want all my whanau, young men and women to do this, and their parents. Everyone deserves a chance to have this held, wise, supportive environment to make that crucial step in life. I imagine what the whole world would look like once it becomes the norm again.

Kia kaha tonu - stay strong




JIm Horton

How is it that a few words strung together in a certain way can have deep meaning to a wide variety of people and circumstances? Words that can stand translation from one language and / or culture to another. A 13th century Persian mystic Rumi (who practised sufism) wrote many works in the Persian language to later to be translated into many languages across the world and today is considered one of the most published poets of all time - showing how poetry can stand the test of time, translation and culture.

Some years ago, the poet Robert Bly gave the advice that "if you want to do soul work, learn good poetry, understand it, speak it from heart and embody it in your everyday living.” This is why poetry is an important element in Tracks and its exposition of what it is to be a good man.
Here is an example of a poem by William Stafford that I am currently learning as part of my soulwork journey…  

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am

and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognise the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk;
though we could fool each other, we should consider-
let the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep
the signals we give- yes or no, or maybe-
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep

William Stafford 

What parts of this poem speak to you? Is it about speaking from your heart? Does it identify with your creed, your way of living truth and integrity?

Tracks is a mythopoetic tradition of rites that includes finding one’s true voice in song, blessing, theatre, ritual, story, harmonising, music, dance … and poems.

How to speak a poem in a Tracks event

  • Choose a poem that speaks deeply to you with its message and wisdom;
  • Speak the poem to introduce the mood of a circle at the beginning; or
  • Speak the poem at the end of a circle (when we’re standing holding hands for instance);
  • Introduce the poem: who wrote it, what it means to you or what you want it to mean for the circle energy;
  • Speak the poem through twice with emphasis on the parts that are most meaningful in the moment for you;
  • Repeat certain lines that are most meaningful to you;
  • Interpret the poem’s impact and meaning of the essence of the circle for you.
  • This is an offering and deepening of the moment for you and others in the circle;
  • Hold the energy briefly, ask for others' feedback or interpretations in the moment.
  • Give thanks and appreciation to the author of the poem.

TIPS: If the words elude you - paraphrase but carry on, this is all part of the journey of soulwork. As time goes by the poem will embed and live in your psyche and memory and will come to carry deeper and deeper meaning for you.
“Before you give a man a sword … teach him to dance."


The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before,
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

  David Whyte


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver


You walker, you are the path

You walking, your footprints are the road, and nothing else;
There is no road, walker, you make the road by walking.
By walking you make the road,
And when you look backward you see the path that you will never step on again.
Walker, there is no road, only wind-trails in the sea

Antonio Machado


The wind, one brilliant day, called

to my soul with an aroma of jasmine.
“In return for this jasmine odor,
I’d like all the odor of your roses.”
“I have no roses; I have no flowers left now
in my garden…All are dead.”
“Then I’ll take the waters of the fountains,
and the yellow leaves and the dried-up petals.”
The wind left…I wept. I said to my soul,
“What have you done with the garden entrusted to you?”

From Times Alone: Selected poems by Antonio Machado


Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Khalil Gibran


The Truth of Life

The fire burns hottest
when the wood is driest
Wisdom comes at the cost of innocence
We embrace these thoughts
for each man must walk
his own path
We cannot walk a straight line
for the road of life is winding
And we must criss cross and backtrack
And sometimes race forward
with inhuman speed
Love is not a feeling
nor an emotion
nor a doing
it is yourself and life is
lived for those brief glimpses
into your Inner Truth.

Nicholas Alexander


World on fire

Ancestor fire dreaming us awake
Sacred fire giving us protection
Cleansing fire washing away the old paradigms
Chaos fire burning us awake to our collective response ability
Ancient deep water obscuring our depths
Sacred water cleansing us in ritual space
Water of life carrying us in our birthing
Dying water killing our mother and waking us to our collective response ability
Air of the high mountains flows down from ancient knowing
Great winds changing the face of our land
Whirling winds biting deep into the collective knowing
Burning air choking us awake to our collective response ability
Great mother who burns inside with a star fire
Great mother holding our water so delicately on your surface
Great mother breathing air into our collective conscious
Great mother please ground us and bring our bodies, minds and spirits together
To wake us to our collective response ability

  Jay Horton