Gaia Moana Community

"Between  Land and Sea"

This image of the "Cockle Picking Women" exhibition is courtesy of Trish Wilson of Earth Studio. 

This website was set up in 2006 to enable others to benefit from the journey we went on to establish intentional community on the Otago Peninsula. We wanted to work with the local Maori iwi to set it up on a piece of maori lease land 10 acres in total. It was scrub land and had never been cultivated before. We found its untouched beauty a great attraction, while we recognised the amount of work that was entailed. We established a good working relationship with the manawhenua whose land it was and there was good will on both sides. The legal process that was necessary to establish a lease over the land, however became unworkable, as there was no real precedent for what we intended. We initially agreed on a residential lease, that did not give sufficent protection for the owners, as we were a group, whose changing dynamics would have left them without control over the charactor of those who inhabited the land. A commercial lease was proposed, but its onerious nature was unacceptable to us. People who came into the community would have had to face not only scrutiny from our board, but also be acceptable financially to the iwi's board of directors also. While we could understand their concern, it may well have resulted in their aims and ours for the criteria of who we sought as living companions being at odds. A thirty year lease would have been a long time to find out that we could not have those we wanted to join us. So the process came to an end, sad as we were to let go of the land we had come to think of as a part of us. Since then, two of us are co-existing as an intentional community of two in a small rural village. The third member is about to do the same on farmland the other side of Dunedin, with a workmate.

We all learnt a great deal from the process, and our lives changed. For myself, Jay Ray (, I have come to feel that living in a small non-intentional community, with neighbours that care and share in the best way they know how is a great privelege, and maybe better than living a more isolated lifestyle with selected people only. Filtering out those that are philosophically different from each other may destroy deversity in the end, and any goof permaculturalist knows diversity is essential to continued growth. Many intentional communities seem to come to a close when the original founders leave or move on, or the population ages. In a small semi-rural community where we are all thrown together and can have the opportunity to learn to get along and co-operate it seems to me to have more flexibility and perhaps more longevity. Certainly community as a concept, one way or another, will be essential in the post carbon years to come.The co-operation that has been destroyed by large city living will need to be reversed as we rely more and more on each other for help to survive. Already we are finding people beginning to car pool, share resources, and think more about buying locally. Sustainability is as much about relationships as it is about resources. So at this time I feel happy with the good people of my 'hood', and look forward to sharing with them more and more as the need arises.

Please continue reading to get a sense of where we were at in 2006. Hopefully you will find some resources that will help your own research into ways of life. Blessed Be!


The name Gaia Moana represents a harmonization between the land and the sea. It is symbolic of the harmony that we wish to develop on our community between the Tangata Whenua and the Celtish people from whom we descend. The intentional use of the European "Gaia" for the Earth Mother, and "Moana", the Maori word for sea, becomes our first 'intentional' act, as a community of conscious people. We begin the way we wish to continue: with respect for ourselves, the first people of the land, the land herself, and the other beings that inhabit her. Journey with us on our exploration of "living differently".


Declaration of the Four Sacred Things

The Proposal

The Vision Statement

Letter To the Tangata Whenua

Trust Formation

Trust Deed

Gaia Moana Members Only


Webmaster: Jay Ray     Updated 27/07/2008