Tui Ecovillage

February 24, 2006

In my last post I referred to an article about Tui Ecovillage based here in New Zealand. It’s been a while since I last read the article and I’m reminded of how good it is. It’s written by Robina McCurdy who was the instigator of the village back in 1984 – the article was written in 1996. I’ve met and interviewed Robina and she is a living testament to the personal growth that occurs in successful villages. Here’s some choice quotes:

I believe that the greatest test of a community’s spiritual alignment is how they deal with the financial realm. … It is my opinion that for a community to function wholistically on all levels, an essential ingredient is to have a form of income earning that ties people together. Of necessity this keeps people having to move forward as a group, as their “food source” is bound in with evolving sustainable relationships.


Conflict does and will happen in any group, so learning ways to deal with it is vital to the life of a group. It arises because of lack of honesty, differences in habits, lifestyle and values, projections and reflections, and inappropriate structures to meet the needs of a particular group. Providing ways to deal with these areas, significantly minimises conflict. If the group does not have agreed mechanisms to deal with conflict, the tension that builds up, spoken or unspoken, inevitably brings about distancing. The imploded energy created by denial is likely to destroy the group eventually. In my observations and experience, groups which have not upheld personal growth as a prerequisite for group growth and prosperity, have ultimately destroyed themselves

All prospective members and members of Tui make a commitment not to walk away from conflict. If requested, a member, small group, or, if necessary, the whole community, can be supportive in conflict resolution.

and especially this

A “Tuki” is an oratory “heart-sharing-circle” process, which we have adopted and adapted from the Maori whaikorero and American Indian tribal council. Its purpose is to go deeper into the family / cultural / historical conditioning & values which underlie emotional/attitudinal blocks, to us as a group, making aligned decisions and defining collective direction. It also serves to renew inspiration and therefore commitment. Tuki are usually held when we get “stuck” in a way which hinders our positive progress as a group – when mistrust/ misunderstandings build, when differences create separation, when we lose sight of loving over divisive community issues.

A Tuki generally happens for two days, including the evening in between.

It is important that everyone is present, as it is almost unavoidable that the group will have a “paradigm shift”, and it is difficult for a person being left behind to be later integrated.

and lastly

Well known author Scott Peck has defined that to get in touch with true community we go through the stages of pseudo-community, and then chaos. We at Tui have surely done that – and we are richly awarded.

Through life at Tui, I am rediscovering what I believe to be a natural social pattern encoded within our genes as basic as an animal’s instinct – this pattern is overlaid by conditioning generated from fear of intimacy, and lack of bonding with our Earth Mother.

There are essential patterns in leaves and water-flow, so it is feasible that there are God-given blueprints for human settlement, regardless of how sophisticated we think we have become. It is simply a matter of removing the clutter.

The only thing that I would want to add to this is more specifics about raising children. That said though, a group of people focused on dealing with their own problems the way Tui has have done most of the work toward getting that right anyway.



  1. Excellent article, Aaron.

    This proves my point–that people come to ecovillages with different ideologies. Some are against civilization, others want to help heal the earth but are not against civilization, others are against industrialization but are not against civilization. In an ecovillage, these ideals must be reconciled, and the key to their success is personal growth.

    But the growth is often mutual. Almost always, everyone compromises, rather than one person forcing to admit defeat to other ideologies.

    Posted by: Jim | 02/24/2006

    I think the other thing is that they often aren’t aware of what their ideals are, except in a vague kind of way. When the time comes to make decisions about the ecovillage land can be the first time a person has to get specific about their beliefs – unless part of the village forming process includes dealign with these things

    Posted by: Aaron | 02/24/2006


    Posted by: Jim | 02/24/2006

  2. […] It’s hard to know how it will all work out but the very act of undertaking this kind of journey will undoubtedly bring us into conflict with inner demons, it’ll be pretty obvious when we need to take our eyes off the horizon and turn inward and fortunately for us there are those who have already trodden this path. […]

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