ROPF Newsletter March 2012


Kia ora,

welcome to the autumn edition of our newsletter. The last few months have brought upheaval for many in the Tracks community - through the vagaries of the weather, especially in the Nelson and Golden Bay region, personal circumstances and obstacles on the way to finding suitable Tracks sites in the regions. More importantly, though, these challenges often bring out unknown qualities in people, and we have seen this on many occasions.


We were close to cancelling the January event due to the uncertain state of the access road into Wainui Bay, the home of our Rite of Passage programmes, and due to the absence of our programme manager, Adge Tucker. In a true collaborative effort, both these obstacles were managed in a good way providing great learning opportunities for the core team and resulting in positive feedback all around.

Happy reading

Maria Koch, magazine editor




Golden Bay office

AdgeTucker, Manager


“Well, if it was my father, I would be getting on a plane.” - Hospital Nurse 28th December 2011

It’s wonderful to be back in New Zealand and home again after an unplanned trip back to England to support my father and family. During December last year I received news that my father had had a number of brain haemorrhages and was in intensive care in the regional hospital.

Two months on, and I feel exhausted and relieved to be back with my family and life here in Golden Bay. I’m also very pleased and grateful that I was able to go, it has been quite a roller coaster of a trip, trying to re-establish some solid ground for my father, especially after such a radical upheaval and life change. Together we were able to achieve a lot and things are in a much better place now looking forward.

It’s been great to hear all the good reports from the January rite at Wainui. I celebrate and say well done to you all!

I'm looking forward to catching up, seeing you again and enjoying the rest of what 2012 has in store.


Tracks Rite of Passage January 2012

Lyndon Keene

I went on the Tracks “Rites” camp only because my son was keen to go, having heard about it from a friend. Frankly, spending five days on a camp with a bunch of strangers was not very appealing to me and I was skeptical about the claimed benefits of the programme.

After the first couple of days I was feeling outside of my comfort zone with some activities, and still sceptical. I was impressed, however, by the way the organisers had managed to bring the men and boys together and create a strong sense community in such a short time.

By the third day it all started to fall into place for me and by the end of that day my initial scepticism had been turned on its head. Somehow the activities over the preceding days, and the highly supportive environment, seem to have brought out the best in the boys. All, without exception, showed great courage and perseverance – mentally and physically. What impressed me even more, though, was the amount of support, compassion and sensitivity they showed each other, and their ability and willingness to speak about their experiences and feelings so openly and often with surprising insight and wisdom. These are not qualities usually associated with teenage boys but what I witnessed has certainly opened my eyes.  

The “Rites” camp was such a positive, life-affirming experience. It has brought my son and me closer together.


Rites of Passage Foundation


Susan Jessie, Chairperson of Tides Trust

As many of you will know, Rites of Passage Foundation is the name of the new trust under which Tides and Tracks will stand in the near future. The steering group has already met a couple of times this year to confirm the trust objectives and name the new trustees.

Everything is moving along smoothly, the objectives, trustees' names and special clauses are now with the lawyer who will draw up the trust deed. We're hoping the draft will be available for the first trustee meeting in early April. The foundation trustees are Manfred Raunigg, Jim, Horton, Stef Jongkind, Rita Scholten, Amira Porporina and John Black.

Personally I wish them well for the journey ahead, which will be looking at the nitty gritty of how the two trusts, Track and Tides can easily and effectively come together under the same umbrella.



Fundraiser for rite of passage youth work

Maria Koch


The creative fundraising effort by Tracks chair Jim Horton has reaped a handsome profit of $3500 for Tracks and our sister organisation Tides at an auction and variety evening in Golden Bay.

The Brigand in Takaka turned into an art gallery and auction hall for one night

For one night on the 26 November, the local bar The Brigand became an art gallery and auction hall, with displays of a wide variety of art works to be either raffled or auctioned – paintings, jewellery, harakeke weaving, beadwork and more.

Jim Horton and Suzi Jessie set the mood for the evening


The fundraiser was the culmination of a week-long arts symposium at Tui Community, which also hosts Tracks and Tides Rite of Passage Events. Artists attending the symposium donated their pieces for the auction. Apart from being a great fundraiser, the evening helped lift the profile of rite of passage work.

Some of the participating artists

Thank you to all who helped make this fundraiser happen - by selling or buying raffle tickets, donating art works, compering or performing on the night. And the biggest bouquet goes to Jim, who has brought it all together. Thank you, Jim!

The funds raised have been set aside as contingency funds.   

P.S. Thank you to Lotteries and COGS 

Late last year we received a major funding boost from Lotteries for wages, programme evaluation and volunteer expenses at central office. Lotteries are one of our major funders, and we are very grateful for their continuing support.

We also appreciate the ongoing support from COGS Nelson/Tasman for overhead office expenses.




Stories, shadow and the ROPE of life - Rights of Passage Experience (ROPE)

Dr Jim Horton, Chairperson/Co-founder of Tracks Trust

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

part 2 (continued from last edition)


The Rope that ties us as parents to our growing children is mighty, it is our band to them, it is profoundly biological for a woman, and where the father is in relationship with the mother can have a deep bonding affect for the man. Some would say this is biological too.

Parenting, rite of passage and adolescence run beside each other during those teenage years. You could say we are bound to our children by a ROPE – a rope that we let out, hold on to or even pull in as we feel the need to care for our children.

This is not an easy task and we receive no formal education; re-membering the experiences of our childhood and our parents, relating to our friends and family – learning as we go along. The experience of parenting is fraught with challenges  ranging from emotional to financial; a complex endeavor, sometimes unplanned. Our beloved children change so fast during their adolescent years that it has to be a dynamic growing involvement. I’m not sure it ever comes to an end – they usually outlive us – so it is a life-long relationship.

How to do this well? How to allow them to safely find their own identity beyond us? Parenting is truly one of life’s most profound aspects. Experiential and fraught with deep emotion it can involve us so deeply that at times we can loose perspective. This is where extended family, whanau, community and society can be of assistance for reference, for advice and for consolation. 

There are three parts to a Tracks Rite of Passage event

  • The challenge
  • The calling in of spirit
  • The telling of stories

and these are reflected in our everyday living with our children as follows: 

The challenge

In everyday parenting this is the holding onto the rope that binds us through the relationship to our children. The challenge is to allow them enough space and freedom to grow and experience life fully and/or to hold on tight or pull it in. To know when to say 'yes' and when to say 'no'. In today’s world this can be complex and call into us the maturity and resources we need to do this well. The challenge is to find those resources that we can believe in. 

The calling of spirit

This is about recognizing and acknowledging the genius in our children. Helping them to find their identity, who they are, offering reference points and experiences for their growth. And it is a lot about love, showing how to give it and helping them to receive it. It’s about compliments, criticisms, comparisons and most of all touch, warmth and affection. 

The telling of stories

In the Tracks ROPE this is represented by the deep, confidential stories shared by men of all ages – the stories of their experiences of growing up. The stories are aimed at the new boys who come for their ROPE. They are spoken into a fire-circle where a man stands and walks around in that circle telling his experience. The themes of the stories are particular to each circle. There are about 15 of these story-telling circles during the event. We consider these circles the special part of our event, held sacred, the learning time, not preaching but offering. Themes such as safety, relationships, sexuality, mentoring, stories from our youth. These stories are sometimes raw and challenging – they say to the new boys, “You are old enough now to hear the deep truth of our lives.” The circles are closely held by elders and the core group of men. They are held and aimed to offer the new boys a substitute for their own lack of experience of life, which is limited by their age. 

Our deepest wish is that the substance of these told experiences will form a matrix, a memory, a reference point for the new young men to grasp – a rope to hold onto when their lives are turbulent and they have the courage of their doubts.