Where the wild things are takes on a new meaning with Raglan’s newest programme Kura Taiao (nature school).
Developed by Robz Jones in 2013 as Whaingaroa Nature School initially to share knowledge of edible and medicinal plants, Kura Taiao now offers workshops and courses for people of all ages looking to reconnect with their ‘wild side’ and rediscover the ancient survival skills and practices.
These school holidays young nature lovers can join the Wild Child holiday programme and in Term 2 the after school Re-wilded programme will be running for six weeks.
For the more mature wild child, Robz offers a plant connection and wild medicine on May 2 and 30, and are a moon apart.
“Kura Taiao is a way of getting people to reconnect with nature at a deeper level,” Robz says.
He uses the analogy of the way a surfer would look at a wave as opposed to a non-surfer.
“Someone who doesn’t surf might see the wave and enjoy its simple shape and form. But a surfer will know the deeper story of the wave, how it feels, where it’s come from and the journey the wave has taken. If you apply that level of acknowledgment to everything around us, it gives us a deeper connection with our world.”
Robz reckons children still have a nature connection, and they love going bush, having fun and embarking on a journey of awakening their senses.
The holiday programme is designed for kids to explore wild plant wisdom using stories and play, and concluding with bush skills such as tracking and shelter building at the end of the three-day course.
The after school programme includes story-telling, crafts, games, bush skills and lots of exploring. There’s also whittling, hut building, tracking, blazer trails, bird language and lots more depending on the weather.
Robz discovered his ‘wild child’ when he first travelled to New Zealand from his home town Bradford, Yorkshire as a 17-year-old.
The ‘city kid’ was introduced the New Zealand’s natural wonders during the six months he was here and he says it was those early introductions to the natural world that shaped his life.
He came back to New Zealand as a 19-year-old to live and started his lifelong learning journey in the university of nature and to basically, as he puts It, become a ‘good guy’ and live a simple life.
Living in the Far North, Robz worked as a caregiver, became a solo dad to Matai (now 8-years-old) and then embarked on a five-month cycling trip around the country with Matai when he turned two.
It was on this journey that Robz started learning about the plant world through his own experiences and using books to find out more.
“By the end of that trip there weren’t many plants I couldn’t name,” he says.
He sees his journey into nature as life-long and recently he traversed Karioi at night with only the moonlight and his natural instincts to guide his way.
“People didn’t understand why I did it, but to experience the mountain in that way was incredible.”
Part of that journey is always asking questions of the world around him and looking for magic everywhere in the smallest of ways.
“It’s about seeing and listening in the way that we used to.”
To find out more about Kura Taiao visit www.kurataiao.org.nz or email firstname.lastname@example.org.