Making Tracks - Spring 2011

Kia ora, greetings,

Welcome to the spring edition of our newsletter sharing news and personal stories with the Tracks community and friends. This winter has been a time of consolidation in some areas and new development in others.

As the regional communities are growing stronger, the relationship between central office and the regions is changing. To discuss a good way forward, regional representatives met with the Tracks trust board in Nelson in July.

Also exciting are the latest developments in bringing us closer to our Tides sisters. Over the next few months we are working together in setting up the new Rites of Passage Foundation as an umbrella for both organisations, which will allow us to stand together more strongly and support each other in our work. Watch this space.

In this issue we publish the first part of our chairperson's, Jim Horton, musings on 'Stories, Shadow and the ROPE of Life' on the complex role of being a parent in today's world.

In times where many community organisations are struggling to maintain their current level of funding, Tracks trustees, regional committees and staff have spent many hours raising funds for existing and new projects: public presentations; post-event support; development of a Coromandel event site; sponsorships for families, Young Leaders and new men wanting to train as Tracks facilitators. We are very grateful for the ongoing support from generous individuals connected to Tracks, as well as philanthropists and funding bodies.

And - please keep sending in your contributions any time for inclusion in the next newsletter. Our vision is to have this newsletter as a forum for lively exchange about what touches the lives of the Tracks community.

Maria Koch, editor


Tracks and Tides connect

Gabby Hollis - August 2011


Seven stood facing the skyline – three men and four women looking to the rising sun. The day dawned clear and bright as we called in a new beginning for Tracks and Tides. This reflection of nature’s seamless unfolding set the scene for the weekend and supported the flow as we sat in circle. There seemed a real ease and natural coming together as we created the bare bones of a new foundation.

As the sun set on Wainui, we journeyed to the lodge, entered the earthy womb and spoke our prayers into the night. Honouring the masculine, the feminine, past, present and future in an age-old practice we emerged with new-found insight. Rites of Passage Foundation is born.

Tides and Tracks men and women, from left: Stef Jongkind, Jim Horton,Manfred Raunigg, Gabby Hollis, Maria Koch, Suzi Ejima, Rita Jongkind 


Tides and Tracks men and women, from left: Stef Jongkind, Jim Horton, Manfred Raunigg, Gabby Hollis, Maria Koch, Suzi Ejima, Rita Jongkind



From the regions

Nelson Tasman - Karaka

Adge Tucker

I’ve been feeling the excitement as the weather warms and our attention turns to the approaching event season for Nelson Tasman Tracks. We kick off with our October rite from 19 to 23 October, followed by two others in January and April. If you are interested or know of others who might like to be a part of any of those please be in touch and find more info on our website –

During winter we have put some work into upgrading and doing repairs to the Treefield.

We are now putting the finishing touches to a series of presentations to parents of teenagers, which we’re looking to put on across the region over the coming months. The first will be at Motueka High as part of their TIPS programme for parents. Simon Dadley-Moore and I will be talking ‘teenage young men and Tracks’ on Wednesday September 28. Keep an eye out for other upcoming dates and please come along or encourage parents who may be interested to join us for a fun evening talking Tracks.

Unfortunately we have some sad news to report - Craig Worthington passed away at the end of July. Craig came to Tracks for the first time in March as a father of two. He and his eldest son James brought warmth, gentleness and humour into the event. Their relationship and the way they tackled the programme and shared of their lives was an inspiration for everyone. Our sympathies go out to the family at this time and we hope to see you back around the fire again soon.

Lastly, I would like to remind and encourage you all in the Nelson Tasman Tracks community, that if you’re planning an activity or would like to see something specific happening outside our events, to be in touch. We can help to get the word out and let folk know what’s happening in their region. So if you are thinking of having an evening round the fire at your place and want to invite others, or if you’re kayaking the Abel Tasman, getting a snowboard trip together and could use some more company, let’s get the word out and see what we can do. 

That’s about it for now, off to the Treefield.

See you soon.


Wainui Rite of Passage Camp, March 2011

From left: Josh Vogt, Fabian Stoffregen, Alex Tuffnell, Rob Stewart, Edan Feint, Rani Jimenez, Bob Fairs


From left: William Henderson, Josh Sokolov-Pearson, Ajala Hesketh, Ben Reed, Ranni Jimenez, Fraser Bruce

Wellington Region

Leo Ramakers

Spirit of Man Weekend

In February, eight men gathered on Bruce Bycroft's land north of Shannon. We dug our own pits for burying toilet waste, erected a 'tentacle' for fire circles and another seven-metre tipi for sleeping accommodation some distance away in the gully.

Friday began with a circle at 6pm exploring 'what’s up, what’s down, and what is your intention for the event'.

After our self-supplied breakfast and a planning circle, Tracks chair Jim Horton led an excellent training in how to perform a self-creation ritual. Lunch included Graham Ibell’s magnificent invention called 'Kaihinau Black Bottomed Sourdough', which provided very satisfying nourishment along with sausages and fruit. In the circle that followed each participant was asked to consider what aspect of his spirit he sought to develop (e.g. king, warrior, healer, musician, jester, etc), and each man then went forth into the hills to fashion a token signifying his choice.

The day concluded with the men being invited to optionally go into the night alone for an all-night vision quest or to return to their beds.

The weekend together concluded with a planning 'circle of many voices', and afternoon refreshments in Bruce's home.

Future plans

We are currently reviewing sites for regular fire circles, and several men are planning events aimed at the younger men. Our next Spirit of Man event will have taken place by the time this newsletter is published, with two GMMT events planned, possibly in November and March 2012, depending on the availability of Adge and Jim.

We have an active group of some 10 to 15 men located between Wellington and Hastings, who contribute and participate. A similar number of young Tracks men also live in this catchment, and we hope to provide events of value for them as well. Overall, our group is upbeat and energised, and we have high expectation for the future.


Coromandel Region

Eric Zwaan

It has been a busy time at Tracks Coromandel with the development of the land and our first GMMT on our land. This last year we have cleared the three acres of river flat from gorse and sowed grass seed, making the place look good. We also installed two longdrop toilets and built a 5x9m marquee with a wooden floor and a kitchen. And we created a sweatlodge.

Our May GMMT on the land was very successful. The three new men who did come along were of exceptional calibre! The weather was pretty good with an almost full moon. It was a fantastic induction to the land. We did the things you do for a GMMT and also blessed the land with water from Golden Bay, mixed with water from the Kaeauranga River next to the site. All participants received a kauri tree as a token of their membership of the Kauri Tribe and later planted these trees on the land.The vision is that over time the gorse-covered hillsite will be covered in kauri trees as it once was.

Unfortunately, some of the neighbours have expressed their unease about having our events across the river from them. On August 17 we had a public meeting to hear and discuss these concerns and we are currently trying to work trough this.


Personal Stories

A young man’s experience

Ben Reed

I wish to express my thanks for everything you did for me at Tracks. You helped me realise who I am, as well as make new friends, change from a boy to young adult; overcome difficulties and challenges.

I have kept in contact with quite a few of the friends I made at Tracks. I have had other challenges since Tracks but I am working to overcome them.
During Tracks I enjoyed the sports challenges; the walk to the Tracks camp site; soccer; the music and play activities; sitting by the fire; sleeping in the tepees; eating.

Again I thank the team at Tracks for all they did for me and I would gladly recommend Tracks to other people.

A father's story

Russell Taylor

My son Kellar, a prior youth, now a more together, present, confident and aspiring young man commented in a discussion last weekend over what he would do if he won lotto - he simply said he would give it to Tracks as they do such great stuff. I wish I could convince my next son, and many of his mates and their disrupted families to enrol, share and claim.

My experience then, and on many reflections on whether I am rising to my challenges, has enabled me to see that my trials and tribulations as a man, a father, and a son are not mine alone nor necessarily unique and 'new'. I can learn and have learned. 'Honouring' has been my most difficult crusade. I even enjoyed and was not embarrassed by my journey into new territory. Putting aside, even temporarily, the cerebral, the musts, oughts, and shoulds was great.

I attended with my 16-year-old son Kellar in initiation experience. Being a later-in-life parent, [I had previously a trained as youth, social, and communitity worker; currently a union organiser, with wife, two sons, a daughter and a closer extended family], I thoroughly enjoyed, at times was challenged, sometimes 'critical' and negative.

Trusting in the process, in each other, and some of the time-honoured practice parables and excellent facilitation worked for me. My challenges have come to fruition and created unexpected spinoffs, growth and developments. I am now more in touch with myself, my brothers and sisters and the wider family (my folks long and regretfully dead). 

Ma pango, ma whero.


A mother gives thanks

Clyde McCready

Somewhere between raising four boys and building a business I stopped for long enough to hear my son; not listen to, but hear.

He told me he loves me and appreciates what I am doing.

I was introduced to Tracks while I was trying to understand how to let my son become a man.

I have immense gratitude for the vision held and the hearts that surround and support the moments that allow a boy to step forward into a man’s world.

With love and respect.


Researching Tracks

Finding the stories that matter

Jamie Howell

We live our lives immersed in stories. The story of researching Tracks is coming to a close. Eighteen months in the making, and I am finally nearing some kind of conclusion.

During the research I interviewed 12 families, alongside a number of professionals in the field of youth work and health. I am very grateful to those families who trusted the process enough to share something real, the stories that matter.

The last few months have been both challenging and very stimulating as the pieces began to fall into to place. I have been analysing the data; reading texts; reflecting; engaging with supervisors and talking deeply with practitioners.

I have learned quite a bit about the craft of researching as I strive to find a method that honours the whole while acknowledging the system of critical academia, which tends to break things into pieces. This has to be achieved while staying aware of a potential for bias and making assumptions.

It is writing up time now, all the material is there to write a meaningful thesis in the context of how to prepare young men and their families to function well in a modern setting. I aim to have the thesis completed in January. Once this is complete my intention is to write another publication that shares more of the stories in ways suitable for a wider audience.


Stories, Shadow and the ROPE of Life

Part 1: Rite of Passage Experience (ROPE)

This is my story and these are my insights and opinions, this is not necessarily Tracks policy or creed. 

This writing is intended to assist in developing some perspective on the complex role of being a parent in today’s world. How the re-emergence (re-remembering) of a contemporary Rites of Passage Experience (ROPE) may enable a more informed and productive transition through the teenage years for our children and for us as parents. This is written from the perspective gained developing our Tracks programme.

The last 10 years, through research into other programmes of initiation world-wide and thousands of hours spent communicating in person and on the telephone with boys, their parents, other relatives and leaders, an intimate window has been opened on family life. It is from this privileged opportunity that I write.

A few clues and reality checks have come also from parenting five - now grown - boys in Tui’s intentional community, where a couple of dozen other boys and girls grew up together at the end of this dirt road in Wainui Bay some 30 kilometres from the small town Takaka in isolated Golden Bay.

Something was missing from my life until one day I found out it was myself.

Myself, my story, I had a story to tell but where could I tell it?

And I wanted to know what went on in other men’s lives. Was it OK to have stories like I had? Some were dark and I suppressed them and that part of my life’s experience. Was I normal? What was normal? I guess, I wanted to really know how I stacked up, how I compared in a deep way with other men.

My experiences with men from sport and drinking and partying and business and work were mixed. Did I tell my full truth to them? ... sometimes. Did they believe me? Did they care? What was a good man, a good father?

Mostly I told my intimate stories to women and often those stories were not really true. I avoided the dark thoughts and deeds that had occurred along the way. I was in my late forties, in a new country, a new way of life and I had a wife and two boys, 14 and six years old, it was the early 90s, I was building a house and a dental practice in Takaka.

And then my marriage of 26 years fell apart in what I review now as spectacular (many people watching), dramatic and painful – like a sandcastle submitting to the incoming tide – beautiful, but inevitable and final. And there was sadness and fear in the process.

Like a drowning man I reached out to friends and I found and became passionately involved with men's events. Outdoors, round the fire, isolated, for a few days together – no women or kids, no TV, no beer, no distractions. Just men and wilderness and space and time to talk and do what we might do. I travelled to America, Canada, South Africa and Australia putting on outdoor men's events with other men or attended other similar events put on by other passionate men.

I told my stories as bravely as I could and I listened to other men. It was amazing, it became an important part of my life and still is, although these days we’ve arrived at boys and their fathers – we want them to avoid some of the holes in the road to manhood that are in other stories; in the everyday happenings of today’s world in our families, our communities, our world; in our relationships with men and women and the mothers of our children.

And we want to tell of the fun of being a man with so much energy and exuberance passing through us every day; of the power and the fear and the amazing experience of being a good man or at least trying to be!  Of the horror and the courage, the doubt and the pride. There is the uplifting feeling of creating, for a short time, a magical environment uninvaded by the mundane flat line of social put-downs, TV, harsh language, alcohol and laying aside everyday responsibilities; safe and held with determined confidentiality and safety; and lots of fun and laughter, tears and emotions.

Men of all generations from teenage magnificence to older and elder. Powerful men in their thirties and forties – fathers and sons from all walks of life, from bankers and professionals to men down on their luck and boys with desperate heartbreaking stories of broken families.

In our travels we came across other men who wanted to re-member and hold initiation processes for boys. We discovered community groups that were doing it, had been doing it as part of their culture for hundreds, even thousands of years. Africans and American Indians, Australians and Polynesians.

There was a deep and very old energy and feeling to the work of the men involved in bringing through the next generation. It affected us on a primal, a genetic level. Somehow even the most urban city dwellers understood. Something deep down was re-membered and enlivened.

On some level it feels very old and natural, men working with men towards a common shared goal – the growth and nurturing of good men. A bubble of the idyllic, a pause, a created space full of humour and good conscience – not easy but with a certain important tension created by intent. Men focused on outcomes beyond themselves – one of the most powerful forces for good on the planet.

It must be held, supported, cared for and guarded in a wise and experienced fashion. Everything that happens is new, but in an old way. Primal and mindful sit beside each other in the circle. Humour and angst are evident. Age and wisdom are to hand, the older and the younger. Brilliance shines its light and darkness forms shadow – all must be welcome or the realness fades.

Jim Horton BDS (Lord) Chairperson, co-founder of Tracks Trust