by Peter Thomas
During a violent West Coast storm, 5 year old Davey tells his mother he has seen fire in the sky. His mother, River, recognises the distress flares, and mobilises the tiny community to rescue two women and two men from the raging sea – Thyme, Tidie, Raro, and Tonga. Their presence changes the whole community forever.
The newcomers had taken great pains to keep their presence away from all authorities such as police, doctors and hospitals. The plans they had made to begin farming near Greymouth ended on the rocks and crashing surf of the small bay, along with their tools, seeds and equipment.
The rescued sailors are accepted into the small community and begin to build an extension onto River’s cabin to house themselves. Their open approach to sex is difficult for the others to understand at first, but is soon seen as normal behaviour.
A hot shot lawyer (Grant) from Christchurch arrives with his wife, full of ideas and cash to combat climate change by building a self-sufficient community, driven by what he calls a ‘circle of giving’ economy.
A young Indian woman, Karma, comes with a new born baby, and Grant admits to being the father. Under pressure from his wife, he agrees to build Karma a cabin to live in.
To this mix is added the news that a high court judge jumped, or was pushed, off the roof of a hotel, and his wife comes seeking Grant to represent her son who was ‘helping the police with their enquiries’. However, she has a second motive for her visit. Thyme used to work as the Judge’s secretary, and became aware that his wife and son were major drug distributors.
From out of this chaos Grant drives the idea of taking in young offenders and teaching them life skills by building a garden to allow the community to become self-sufficient in food, and giving them a skill they can use to get employment when their time is up.
The author uses his technical background to make the plans appear workable, and his social ideas frame the way the community is organised. He draws on Maori culture to illustrate how these ideas have worked in the past, and can do so again if we are willing to let them.
The book reads easily, but I will not attempt to comment on the social ideas that it contains. I will leave it to readers to make up their own minds in that regard.
Author: Peter Thomas
Publisher: Good Hope Publishing House
RRP: $23 plus Post and Packing (where applicable)
Available: Bookshops; Good Hope Publishing PO Box 596 Picton 7220, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Raukura Art Gallery email@example.com; Amazon