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Newsphere March 2022

Kia ora koutou Wangapeka whānau,

Welcome to the March Issue of Newsphere.

So much is changing in our world, and the rate of change seems to be accelerating too! A Dharma Centre like Wangapeka is not immune (pun intended) from all these changes!

This Newsphere covers many varied items and issues, and hopefully will give you some understanding of the events that have been happening since November, as well as the substantial challenges being faced by the hardworking Board of Trustees and the caretakers as they have striven to find ways of continuing retreats while following the Government Guidelines. These deliberations and decisions have always been tempered by the knowledge that a Covid-19 outbreak at the Centre during a group retreat would be a very difficult situation to manage, especially for those who live outside the Nelson region.

In this edition you will find : 
  • Uncertain Times - support the Centre by coming to practice, volunteer or give a donation.
  • A Kumanu outlining the challenges the Wangapeka Educational Trust Board of Trustees is currently facing.
  • "The Best Gift is You" - exploring a possible Year of Service in 2023.
  • Courses from December to January: YAR, GOM, Beginning Again and I Can’t Breathe.
Ngā mihi nui
Graham Sandlant
for the Wangapeka Communications Team
Here is a link to our November 2021 Newsphere.
Earlier newsletters can be found on our Wangapeka Publications page.
Insect spotted during YAR 2021; a reminder of all the life that lives at Wangapeka Centre. Photo - Terra Dumont.
Wangapeka Operating in Uncertain Times – A Request for Support

As all of us in the WET community navigate through this difficult time, the principal of practicing Dana (generosity) is a powerful antidote, in the midst of many challenging emotions and situations.  Practicing Dana helps us to open to the reality of deep unconditional support, the flow of giving and receiving, that sustains all of life.

Some ways to practice Dana and support the Wangapeka Centre Community:
Report from the Board Meeting 17 February 2022

The Board didn’t have its regular monthly meeting in January, and since our last meeting in December a lot has changed.  At the end of last year we had a full schedule of retreats lined up, we’d just got a new Covid policy in place, it looked like Hadleigh and Malu would renew their contract as caretakers, and we’d just signed on a new part-time office caretaker.  Now, at the end of February, we have only one retreat booked over the next 3 months, we’ve had to farewell our new office caretaker, and it looks like we can’t roll-over Hadleigh and Malu’s contracts as we can no longer afford 2 caretakers.  The summer retreats provide a significant proportion of the income we need to pay our caretakers, and this year we won’t have that income.

So what will we do at the Centre if we’re not running retreats?  Well, Dan Burgess-Milne has been at the Centre co-ordinating a lot of activities. The Board fully supports and appreciates what Dan is doing.  He is taking this opportunity to investigate new ideas for how the Centre can run and what it can offer, and we welcome that.

We’re hopeful that we can put in place arrangements so that over the next few months there will always be someone resident at the Centre, with volunteers and solo retreatants able to stay.  It seems likely that the various jobs to be done – care of the land, maintenance of buildings, office administration, supporting and guiding volunteers – can be divvied up between the single caretaker, Dan, various volunteers, and paid local help.  It’s really important too that the energy for dharma practice is maintained, and at the moment Dan is holding that too.
It’s still a struggle to find the right balance between providing for unvaccinated members of the community while caring for those who can’t come to the Centre if it would increase their risk of catching Covid. At the moment, the 2021 Covid policy (which requires participants at retreats to be vaccinated) remains in place, but it has only ever applied to group retreats.  It will almost certainly need to change by the time those retreats start up again.  In the meantime, unvaccinated people can continue to come to the Centre, but anyone organising an event that involves close contact must make a call, in line with current Government guidance, about who can attend.  If in doubt, they can refer the question to the Board.

Against the background of financial uncertainty, a couple of good things have happened.  The Lama Mark Trust through Jonathan Chambers has made a $10,000 donation, for use on a special project.  We will use this to pay to get Mike’s workshop conversion, which is already underway, to a stage where we can safely leave it till we have the funds to complete it.

The other money-related initiative is that we’re applying to join a scheme that will enable us to earn carbon credits for the native trees on the land.  We never intend to cut these down.  Over the longer term, this scheme will bring in some useful income.

This is a time of uncertainty, but also of openness.  The Board’s role, it seems us, is to keep the boat afloat while we wait for the current storm to pass, and be ready to head for new shores when the cloud lifts and we can see the way a little more clearly.  We welcome having more hands on deck for the task – or any messages and ideas sent through the ether. 

If anyone wants to find out more about what the Board is doing please contact the Secretary, Tim Leyland, at

Cashy Yates
A Year of Service at the Wangapeka 2023?

On Thursday 24th February a meeting was held at the Centre to explore the idea,  floated last year, of 2023 being focussed around one central tenet of the teachings of Liberation : Service.

This idea has come from members but will, of course, need to be agreed by the Board of Trustees before further steps are taken.
Ten people attended (James Mathieson, Matthew Eades, Georgia Bowick, Dan Burgess-Milne, Jane Hobday, Kath Mitchell, Mark Schrader, Tim Leyland, Keith Rowan, and Chani Grieve) and comments and suggestions have been received by many others including the Elders. Thank you to all who have responded.
During the afternoon a brainstorm session was held and here are some of the key points that arose.
  • Dharma must be at the centre of a Dharma Centre.
  • The presence of a mature core group to hold the space for the year.
  • Guidance from Elders and consultation with existing subcommittees to help create a curriculum structure and programme of retreats to frame the year.
  • Combine a pathway of practice, study, and land care / centre management.
  • A long-term volunteering programme (with clear expectations and some rigour) involving meditation practice, study and practical work to support the Centre.
  • Ensure financial viability.
This is certainly not an extensive list, and we are still brainstorming and refining our thoughts of what this might look like, as we move towards a proposal that can be presented to the board.

From those who attended the day, a core group emerged (Chani Grieve, Jane Hobday and Dan Burges-Milne) to carry the exploration forward.
We welcome your response in relation to the following:
  1. I have motivation and time to be part of a core group
  2. I will support a core group when necessary and able
  3. I support the idea, but won’t be giving time to it.
  4. I don’t support this idea.
Recent Retreats at Wangapeka
My Experience at Wangapeka (Young Adults Retreat)
By Lorena Cardenas

There’s something magic about gathering a bunch of curious beings into a safe space where deep questions can be asked and heard.

I was not expecting at all to address and understand so many things arising within me as a result of meditating. It was emotional at times but so necessary, revealing and nourishing. 
I also felt that, as a group, everyone opened up a lot in our sharing circles. With this I feel like we learnt from each other too, not only from listening to ourselves.

I really appreciated the space for reflection. The tools that we practiced have now allowed me to meditate by myself without an external source. I have been meditating for a few years now. When life becomes busy, it can be hard to concentrate. Sometimes I relied on an external source to help me meditate - like a guided meditation or music. After attending YAR, I have discovered a knowing within me that I can sit and meditate by myself, anytime, anywhere and practice, no matter what’s happening on the outside. Of course, it’s still hard to focus sometimes, especially when there’s a lot going on. However I now feel empowered to navigate those challenges and meditate through them using the tools that we practiced at YAR, relying solely on my breath. This is SUPER powerful!! Thank you for sharing xx

The Six Perfections in Art Form
An invitation to Contemplate it and see what you can discover. 

What are the Colours telling you? What do they mean to you? I love playing with colours and the energies they represent.
How about the words? What do they mean to you? I also love playing with words. I translated each perfection into Spanish too and played with their meanings and roots:
  • - Generosity. Amabilidad. Ama-bilidad. Ama = means ‘to love’ in Spanish 
  • - Wholesome Relationship. Whole-some relation-ship. Whole = complete. Relation = to relate.
  • - Patience. Paciencia. Pa-ciencia. Ciencia = ‘Science’ in Spanish
  • - Energy. E-nergy. Energía. E-nergía.
  • - Concentration. Con-centra-tion. Centra = center. Concentración. Con-centra-ción. Con Centra = ‘with centre’ in Spanish 
  • - Wisdom. Sabiduría. Sabi-duría. Sabi = from its root ‘Saber’ = ‘to know’ in Spanish.
There’s a lot to it!
From Terra Dumont (Young Adults retreat)
Smile - remembering to smile, especially while meditating to release the effort and desire to control and just enjoy the moment as it is. 
Balance - realizing that my life feels out of balance. Why this is an ongoing question for me. 
Intention - remembering to be very intentional about what I choose to do with my time/energy. Asking myself, is this the wisest, most compassionate, most aware thing to do?
With love, Terra
The Young Adults Retreat also did significant mahi at the Centre including splitting logs to add to the firewood supply!
As well as ...

The annual Garden of Mindfuless families retreat lead by Mira Riddiford and Lara Cusdin was held over the new year at the end of 2021.

An Introductory retreat called Beginning Again lead by Kath Mitchell and Mark Schrader followed in early January and was appreciated by beginners (new and old) alike!

And the second part of January saw Bonni Ross lead an Anapanasatti retreat called I Can't Breathe, which was a wonderful reminder of the power of this 'simple' dharma practice.
Wangapeka Refreshment

Its not only refreshing to sojourn at the Wangapeka Centre, its refreshing to enjoy being up in that valley. It’s a special place.

Leaving Bonni’s recent retreat, we went for a short walk upstream in the Kahurangi by a shady creek. Sitting relaxing by a pool we were very fortunate to have a family of Whio (Blue Duck) come scrambling and paddling up and past us. With predator control efforts we are seeing these lovely ducks returning to our environment.

And then on the way out, a swim at that wonderful flat rocks spot upstream of the Centre’s gate with the awesome Devil’s Thumb mountain directly in view. What a vitalising way to take our leave of the Centre and the Wangapeka environs!

- Jo & Tim Leyland.

2022 Programme

Breath and Savor – a Mindful Eating Retreat
with Juliana Griese and Nicky Woodward
Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April

Food and eating are so much a part of our lives, but how much are we present to it? When we attend to our food and eating habits we can ask ourselves questions such as: Why am I eating? What am I really hungry for? Am I at peace with food, with eating, and with my body?

With these questions in mind, I have been exploring ways to change my relationship with food and eating, and to fulfill my emotional need for love and care in a different way.

You are welcome to join me on this massive journey! Massive because it feels impossible to go in another direction sometimes: compulsive eating, battling with weight and body, eating habits that end in chronic diseases… Lifelong conditionings playing in the mind and body. But the willingness to change is here and the tools are available all the time: awareness, self love and connection.

Read more ...

Foundations of Samadhi: Düntün (Seven-day) Retreat

with Jakob Leschly, 20 – 27 November 2022

We are very hopeful that this retreat will be able to go ahead in November 2022.

More information is coming soon - on the website and in Event Updates.

This retreat is held under the auspices of Tibetan Buddhist master Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche with Jakob Leschly as his resident instructor.

The practice of Buddhist meditation allows us to uncover and experience our natural heritage of wisdom though cultivating insight or vipashyana. It is to establish a peaceful space of presence and mindfulness, allowing us to awaken a calmer and wider appreciation of our reality.

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