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The Land I Own

I don’t own land. Not in a literal sense, not yet.

But when I walk, in a sense I own an entire neighbourhood.

For now, my neighbourhood is the steep slopes of Titirangi, but back in the days my domain was the flat and verdant plains of Waterview.

Just like I don’t own land, I didn’t go to uni, but I did learn a lot while walking through one. (Pedants - and other universities - will remind me that Unitec is not, as yet, a University. This is true, but beside the point.)

The Oakley Creek - Auckland’s surprising oasis, a waterfall just metres from the main road, but a completely different mind space.

The Unitec campus. A mixture of former psychiatric hospital buildings and modern prefabs, and a surprising amount of lush green grass. I did attend a night class there once, but apart from that, the learning was all in my head.

Podcasts, you see. In my head.

While now everyone knows podcasts are a thing, not many people recall that they were quite a thing in 2005, 6 and 7.

My walks through Unitec and the Oakley Creek were also walks through civilisation. Psychology. History. Theology. The sun, the birds, the gentle slopes, the quietly growing trees and vines… these were my professors and classmates.

I once attended a swanky dinner and sat next to an architect, originally from New York. Somehow I mentioned Waterview to him. “Oh yes,” he said. “The waterfront of Avondale.”

Young as I was then (or perhaps just unsophisticated), I couldn’t quite catch the intended irony.

Never mind. The mangroves literally do not give a f*ck what Mr Architect thinks of their waterfront. Like the trees, the birds, and all the other life that teems, unseen, in Oakley Creek, they just are. And they continue.

Inspired by my cousin Ashleigh Young, whose unflinchingly honest love letter to my Dad's hometown of Te Kuiti reminded me of the sacredness of ordinary places like Waterview.

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