Finish: Day 29

We got away almost on time for the final leg from Duntroon to Kurow. We were joined by Mary, who had walked some of the way with us a few days previously, and Jane, Mary's daughter. The weather was dull; not actually raining but always promising to. The road was flat, and for most of the way, devoid of corners.

We stopped at the rock drawing site just out of Duntroon and looked at the barely visible artworks left for goodness knows what purpose during the 18th and 19th Centuries by groups of roving Maori. More visible than the works themselves were the works of Pakeha plonkers - the 19th Century ones who had removed the best works, ruining the limestone surface and making the survival of the rest problematic and the 20th Century ones who thought we needed to know their names and those of their assorted girlfriends.

We walked past many soldier trees. After the first world war the locals planted  oaks on the roadside near the places where fallen soldiers had lived or worked. These trees, now about a century old, each has a little white cross beside it inscribed with the name of the young man and the place he died. Together they form the largest war memorial in the country, spreading over much of North Otago. They are well maintained. Sometimes two or three close together inscribed with the same surname bear witness to unspeakable family tragedy, but all are testimony to the foolishness of our institutions and the courage of our youth.

I walked for an hour or two with Jane, who is vegan and was using the 25km walk as a little warm up for the marathon she is running tomorrow. And then in a short while she is off to the Blue Mountains in Australia for a 100km (!) race uphill and downdale.  I had, privately,  made a rough guess at her age but had underestimated by a good 30%. Her appearance and her level of fitness convinced me that I should take notice of what she had to say about diet and lifestyle options. The conversation with her was an unexpected and most welcome gift, moving me back to the insights I had gained from the Gawler Institute, and which, although they had probably saved my life had been compromised of late. I doubt that Jane would consider herself to be a messenger of God, but today she was an apostle - one sent - to bring me timely messages and answers to questions I didn't even know I was asking.

Which is the story of the Hikoi. This has been a month of such incidents: revelatory and powerful and groundbreaking. I have been faced with the reality of my diocese: the incredible depth and generosity and faith of our people, and the precariousness of many of our parishes. I have been faced with myself and my choices. I have been presented, in growing clarity and detail, with a map for the path ahead.

We arrived at the Kurow Vicarage at about 12:30 pm. This lovely complex of buildings ( a six bedroom Victorian stone mansion, a chapel, a stable block converted into a 3 bedroom holiday home and 30+ acres of land) is an asset crying out for us to find a use for it. We had a pot luck lunch with the local congregation and walked the last 2 km to the Waitaki River.

It was cold and a few spots of rain were beginning to fall as we gathered, 15 of us, at the riverbank. Benjamin Brock-Smith had prepared a little liturgy. We prayed and walked back to the van. The little team that had gelled so well - Phil, John and myself, Dion and Tash, Graham and Benjamin - sorted out the gear, climbed into our various vehicles and dispersed. We began as acquaintances but ended as friends. It has been a month but with the amount of incidents that we have packed into it, it seems more like a year. I am glad to be home, and glad I have done it. But I am more than a little disappointed that it is over.


Elaine Dent said…
The Hikoi isn't over, of course. You were living in it for awhile, and it sounds like it taught you much. But now, as we hoped and prayed, it is the Hikoi's turn to accompany you right into the daily discipleship of a bishop's tasks and vision. It still has much to teach you in Part 2 of this pilgrimage.
Merv said…
Thank you for taking us with you. All the best for today.
Peter Carrell said…
Wonderful to follow this journey!
The Kurow Vicarage is amazing :)
Jane said…
Great to meet you yesterday Kelvin and great chatting with you. All the best for your journey back to where you want to be!