Sheryl’s Place

Day 12

After the kayak trip, we had a short walk to Sheryl’s place, my first trail angel. It was an eye-opening experience for me and not what I was expecting.

Sheryl lives on Maori land. Her home is a run-down 1940’s era house, that is in a terrible state. Only recently she had solar panels and batteries installed, and no longer has to walk around at night with a head lamp. Even when the panels and batteries were installed, she still had no lighting as there were no light fixtures, switches or wiring in the walls. She had only a single double power outlet near the solar inverter. she proudly showed us around her house and electrical wiring recently installed. The house had no running water, no sewage system, not even a septic tank. Sheryl loves her home, and considers it her “palace”.

This Maori land is co-owned by the local community. There is no individual land ownership, Sheryl’s father occupied this house before her and this is why Sheryl can now occupy it. The local iwi community govern such matters. This is such a foreign concept to how land is typically managed. I was also not ready to see the poor conditions that Sheryl lived in. A very raw taste of poverty and so very different to how the vast majority of New Zealanders live. It was mere luck we choose to stay with Sheryl, but very glad we did. This is a side of New Zealand I haven’t experienced before.

Sheryl entertained us with stories from the early settlers and introduced everyone to knuckle bones, and children’s game. It was a fun evening with her.