Day 7

Pilgrim's shell

Pilgrim’s shell

Hole in a rock.

Hole in a rock.

Cape Brett

Cape Brett

Saint Nicholas’ Day and one full of gifts. We made it into the Bay of Islands, through the ‘Hole in the Rock,’ paddled with a dolphin, saw Orcas (we were so wishing they would come see us), had coffee (we were invited onto to the yacht Matrix by skipper Noel Vautier), had our last dehydrated meal, and Rangihoua and Oihi are in striking distance for noon tomorrow.

Much to think and reflect on today: Bishop Selwyn once found himself becalmed at Cape Brett and ordered the lifeboat over so he could row to Paihia. No sooner had he done so and the breeze came up. However in Paihia he the rowed around to Waitangi to walk to Waimate North. Such prodigious energy!

Likewise we visited a second ruined whaling station at Deep Water Cove. The work of whalers was described at the time as ” generally desperately dangerous requiring skill, courage,strength, and endurance.”

Early mariners and early missionaries saw our country from a vulnerable place and it required a good deal from within them.

So, we are resting up on Urapukapuka tonight. I have tied a scallop shell to the front of each of our kayaks. Pilgrim vessels.


Day 6

What a day!

It began with decisions about go on or not. My health was not ‘100%’ as we say in kiwi culture understatement.

Anyway, we decided to proceed gently and see how were going. John was fantastic getting us on the water and underway.

The first part of the day went well passing through the Rimiriki Islands off the Whirinaki Penninsula.

Lunch was taken after four and half hours of paddling.

I had bought part of a block of cheese from the very kind campground manager ( getting low on some provisions) and it this aided the general feeling of bliss.
We had run out of superlatives for the beauty of the coastline.

After lunch we set out with the possibility of Cape Brett. Not to be. We slogged in what must have been 20 knot gusts for 2 hours – sometimes paddling full tilt but going nowhere. From just north of Bland Bay to the entrance of Whangamumu Harbour had taken way longer and way more effort than it should have. Humbled again.

In the harbour we paid a short visit to the old whaling station – active at the turn of the 20 Century. It was impressive as a feat of human endevour and courage on one level but there is no doubt that the whole business was ghastly.

Having decided that we would stay at Whangamumu tonight, there was a lone dolphin in the bay. I had a great paddle with it. I even managed an extra turn of speed with the dolphin trying my bow wave (not!). John jumped in and swam with it. Very special.

Now kumara in foil in the fire – to be as cooked as we are feeling after a long day.

Old boiler from old whaling stationWhangamumu whaling station

Day 5

Just a short distance today. We made it to a spectacular camp ground on the Whananaki Peninsula called Otamure. The bay is overlooked by a carved Po, of Tangaroa, the Maori god of the sea. The carving, in a modern style, has the figure clutching fish and crayfish under his arms.

It is all too perfect here and the wind obliged by getting up and making paddling tough and before we knew it the tent was up and we were staying the night. The kayaks looked good on the beach too – shame to move them.

Frankly, we were both a little tired too. 5 hours paddling this morning in and out up the coast. Perhaps too slowly, but the cumulative effects on the previous day’s efforts on this desk jockey come insatiable attendee of meetings is probably the explanation. At least Anglican worship has me sitting down and standing up and general pew aerobics, otherwise I would have to say my job was completely ‘sedentary’! Resolve of day: more worship. (Day in day out it has to improve my fitness?!)

As we paddled up the unspeakably beautiful coast I couldn’t help reflecting on our impact on the landscape. Some truly ugly holiday houses scar the landscape. Some beautiful looking and sympathetic structures too, but many are just evidence of a lack of care for our environment. Hardly a great crime. (Unless you are an architect! And some of my best friends are architects!) The greater crime might be the paucity of sea birds and what has happened to them. Seemingly so few gulls, terns, and the ever wonderful blue penguins. Where have they gone?
Kayaks at Otamure

Looking North from Pataua


Day 4

A little way into our hikoi now and simple things are having considerable attraction. It is a good sign that camping and life at a slower pace is working its magic of getting one to reevaluate what matters. The shower last night and a real breakfast – egg and bacon – were a real delight. At a deeper level the magic is happening too. I found myself singing ” we come from THE land down under” a few times. Splendid cliffs and a deep low swell from the east pressing against them. Truly impressive country and coast.

Another reasonable day with 8 hours of paddling although the last part was slow as we tired and slogged rather slowly into a rising northerly breeze which we weren’t expecting. We have called ourselves ‘the antiques roadshow’ as our bodies and joints complain.

The big delight of the day was crossing Bream Bay, our biggest stretch of open water on this trip. If the weather was poorer we would have had to hug the coast. So, Mangawhai Heads to Ocean Beach for early lunch. We left Ocean Beach happy and the water was genuinely blue for a bit. The afternoon turned out to be hard work but it was a great relief to come into the little river at Pataua. A truly beautiful place.

Day 3

” New every morning is the love.” – John Keeble

What a difference a new day can make. The picture doesn’t quite tell the truth of the day as we had swells at time that had John’s kayak disappear completely, but we have had a great day.
About 56 km covered and most of it actually heading to Oihi.

A bit over 8 hours of paddling and the body is complaining mightily as it is a little while since I have exercised for eight hours in a day. Superb to be in a Bach at Mangawhai. Dad has come down with some provisions, so better dinner tonight. Simple pleasures.

Hope for a another good day tomorrow. If the weather is kind we will be able to go straight across Bream Bay – if not, it will be some dog leg miles again.

Very happy and very tired and very thankful.

Day 2


“Quicken me in the power of your word.”

So reads the passage from Psalm 119 for midday prayer on Mondays. It would be no bad thing to have this petition granted but I find myself praying for quicker progress North. (I know that it is a different use of quicken!) We are making very slow progress towards our destination. The wind is such that we are having to hug the coast and that is far from the most direct route.

This morning we paddled steadily for four hours to our lunch stop Scandrett Regional Park. The wind actually died away for a time (hence risking taking the phone out for a photo of John) and it was lovely. Short lived as rain, a slight wind shift, and wind increase followed too soon. Not before we had the spectacular sight of dolphins absolutely flying in front of us chasing fish which they rounded up in against the coast. A thrilling sight. Unfortunately they were not interested in visiting with a couple of kayakers.

Lunch was weather for the ducks. We were visited by mum and seven ducklings. Very sweet.

This might be today’s post as we are likely to be stuck here, though we have made 21.5km today.

Day 1

photo[16]Well, we headed off a little later than hoped accompanied by a friend, Arend to the harbour limits. No soon had he left us and the wind picked up and we had to slog through a squall of rain into Campell’s Bay on the North Shore.
Then up to Long Bay and Vaughan Park. Nearly in time for Mass, but we were wet and cold already. Johan, the chef there patched up my cut finger – I had tripped coming up the beach and we had a cuppa tea.
Then off towards the Tiritiri Channel. The wind was a comfortable 25 knots in the gusts and we had to reassess things. We ended up cutting the corner at Shakspear Bay and port aged the kayaks over to Army Bay. It turned out to be its own ordeal. Kayaks were very heavy even though we unloaded stuff and carried it 200 meters at a time. A guy in truck rescued us about 400 meters from the end and I was mighty grateful.
30 – 35 knot gusts were on the weather forecast and they kept us on land for the best part of the afternoon. Waiting.
A final hour and a half of paddling until 6;30. Rain and squalls again. Twelve hours after we started and somewhat humbled by the weather I think we are both a bit spent.

a pilgrimage

st jamesOn Advent Sunday I am setting out in my sea kayak from Mission Bay in Auckland to paddle to Oihi in the Bay of Islands. Oihi is the place where Samuel Marsden arrived, at the invitation of the Maori Chief, Ruatara. There he first preached the Gospel 200 years ago on Christmas Day, 1814.

The basic idea behind this journey is that it my version of a hikoi to the Marsden Cross. In the last year as I have reflected on the early history of our church in this land I have been impressed with the fact that early missionaries and bishops travelled mostly by sea. Some of them were wonderfully intrepid and brave. It is also true that many of our early churches sit on waterways because that was the way folk travelled back then.

So, rather than go for a journey by land I have decided to go by sea. The trip is about 250 km and will be testing for a number of reasons. The biggest variable is going to be the weather. If all goes well the biggest challenge is going to be water followed by food (and dare I say it, power to charge the mobile phone so I can stay in touch!). I have allowed eight days for the trip. If I don’t get there by then, well …

Philae – sleeper awake

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end.  Amen.

I feel strangely very sorry that the Rosetta lander, Philae, has run out of battery gone offline and is taking a long nap. She may never wake. (She?)

I don’t fully understand why I am sorry as I am and, if I am honest, even a little sad. Some of it is the disappointment I feel is for the team that designed, launched, and landed Philae. They were so excited and their excitement was infectious. I imagine they may now be equally downcast. The champagne has lost all the fizz and turned vinegar.

I think one thing that I feel sad about is the dashed hope that the feat gave rise to in me. The very idea that Rosetta could ‘slingshot’ three times around the earth in order to gather enough speed to go far enough and then go all that way and with such accuracy and find a speck of rock that only had a few letters to name it… All that seems just extraordinary. Wow!

I had this extraordinary feat in the back of my mind as I sat with someone in Auckland Hospital this past week as they talked with a Cardiac Consultant. There was this Consultant trying to do his work. There was this patient who had waited seven months and three rescheduled appointments for the appointment. The Consultant could not access the medical records because the computers were not working properly. He spoke form memory of reading the records but couldn’t offer any real comment or diagnosis or anything. Because “the system was down.” I said to myself, ‘But if Philae can land, this is absurd!’ It was hard not to feel a little angry.

It should be possible for our hospitals to have working computers, and, … the list goes on for ACC and other government departments to manage private information, and you can add to the list. On a global scale, it should be possible for us to respond more adequately to Ebola or HIV/AIDS. These issues are way less problematic than Rosetta’s mission!

Philae showed me at least what is possible if humans put their minds to big big technical problems. I was delighted that the team that had worked for so long had succeeded. It gave me reason to hope that, if we turned our minds to problems here on earth, problems that dog us that appear to be just about resources and application, we could, indeed we will, succeed. Philae was, for a few days, a spit in the eye to so many apparently unnecessary absurdities in this world.

I still think we can do better. And I do hope Philae wakes from her sleep and sends back some more data.


all saints, honiara

all saints, honiara

I am three today. Three years on in a new identity – bishop.

A friend gave me a lovely bottle of wine. I’ll save it for a couple more years; it needs to mellow some. Me too.

I looked back through some photos and I have been part of some wonderful moments as a result of being ‘in the pink.’ Confirmations stand out. Many moments for which I gave thanks to God, and thanks to colleagues/ the people of God.

The photo attached is of a statue outside the bishop’s chapel in Honiara. I was there recently. The photo seems apposite because … well, I am constantly told that I am not good at smiling, and the crozier is busted (I have lost a segment of mine and so don’t have one anymore), and …

A feature of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal) is that it has a rubric (instruction) that the ordinand in an episcopal ordination is “vested in a rochet or alb, without stole, tippet, or 
other vesture distinctive of ecclesiastical or academic rank or order.” I take this rubric to contain an important truth: that one sets aside one’s priesthood to become a bishop. It is a truth that I failed to notice carefully enough when I was ordained bishop three years ago. I have found the letting go of an identity that I once had a deeply challenging part of taking up a new one.

I think the most pressing challenge is the daily and long-term challenge of leadership. In recent weeks I have found Ronald Heifetz’s discussion of the distinction bettwen authority and leadership a very helpful one; likewise his distinction between ‘adaptive’ and ‘technical’ leadership. (For those who don’t know his work the following lecture gives a nice little introduction. )

The church faces huge challenges and our capacity to face these challenges depends on the leadership that we offer each other. I pray for the strength and courage that i\we all need.