Posted by: thebluemusicblog | December 15, 2012

NEW ZEALAND 3 – NELSON

Back in the air on our way from Christchurch to Nelson, still on the South Island. Nelson is the city with the most sunshine days in New Zealand, and it is a beautiful city along the coast, just on the edge of one of the most beautiful natural parks in the world. Exciting! Nelson is maybe not the biggest YMCA in the Pacific, but it is home to two real giants of the international YMCA movement, Helen McEwan and Paul Le Gros. Both of them are leaders in their local YMCA, and both of them continue to play significant roles in the world movement. Helen as the Treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee, Paul as a long time governance advisor, legal advisor and one of the brains, if not the brain, behind our election system. I really look forward to meet Helen and Paul.

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The view from the plane is breathtaking, as we fly over snow covered mountains and deep, beautiful valleys. What a country New Zealand is, very much according to my expectations, maybe even more so! The beauty of the country can only compete with the hospitality of the Kiwis, and one of them is waiting for us at the small airport in Nelson, Helen greets us with a big smile and an even bigger hug. This is one of the best parts of traveling, to meet friends in their own backyards!

IMG_1552While you are wondering about this car, let me quickly add a few explaining words. Unfortunately this car does not belong to Helen, it is not the job car of the YMCA, and it is not rented for the occasion. It belongs to one of the funniest museums I have ever visited, and we enjoyed every part of it. It was divided in two equal parts, in the first there were maybe 50 of the most sought after veteran cars in the world, all of them in tip top  shape and shining and flashing to my greedy eyes! Wow, what a sight!

IMG_1567This yellow beauty is from the  mid thirties and there are not many of this brand left in the world.

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The other part was dedicated to wearable art, and the costumes here are so creative and fabulous that even photos were forbidden. I was only allowed to take one snapshot of this rather peculiar model:¨

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We started our visit to Nelson by visiting the local YMCA and took a tour of the premises together with the President, Bernard, or Bernie among friends and the CEO, Paula. The YMCA building is a rebuilt church, and Bernie had double thoughts about one of the major programmes taking place inside the former church building, namely the noble art of self defense. This is of course only one of several programmes, and I was really impressed by the relevance and closeness to the local community. In this part of Nelson there are predominantly immigrants from the Pacific region, from the islands and also further away. A good number of different languages are represented in this relatively small community, and the YMCA is offering a number of very important services for an immigrant family, from child care of infants, over school programmes for children to vocational training for adults and elderly even.And also services in different languages.

IMG_1545I was invited to participate in the board meeting, this afternoon there was a meeting with the leaders of another NGO, an organization working with teenagers in the streets, helping them to have a safe place  while they were getting control over themselves  after too much drink or drugs. This organization wanted to join forces with the YMCA and merge with them. The devotion at the meeting was done by an elderly gentleman who had been a board member for a life time. I am taken by these people who dedicate their whole life to the service of their communities through the YMCA.

IMG_1548Everywhere children running around the Nelson YMCA, smiling parents and very friendly volunteers. And on the walls posters telling the impact of YMCA and I smile when I watch these kids with their Y-shirts. Great!

IMG_1570Sunset over the “Boat shed” as Helen and Paul and Bernie and other friends from the local YMCA invited us for dinner and a long evening with conversation and planning for the future. We even touch base with the next World Council and the next election, where Paul is still involved.

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I urge Paul to join us in the Executive Committee as we plan to meet in Jericho in April 2013. I believe Paul will be there. Bernie more or less promise to come to Estes Park June 29 – July 5, 2014. World Council!


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The sun is setting ov er Nelson as we go to rest. The next day will take us on an excursion to the National Park together with Helen and Paul.

photoWith Helen and Paula we meet a lot of the younger generation in Nelson, frequenting the local YMCA.

IMG_0837And now swim waists and safety instructions as we join a school class of eager thirteen years olds and go on the water! It is a lovely ride up along the coast and we see the beauty of the Abel Tasman National Park.

IMG_0823We started from Marahau and passed Anchorage, Torrent Bay, Bark Bay and Onetahuti on our way to Awaroa. This split apple was pretty amazing.

IMG_0826A small blue penguin, grows to become only 35 cm, greeted us in the sea.

IMG_0853And Paul and Helen walk across the air strip in Awaroa, and Paul shares with us how he once took one of my predecessors at the World Alliance, John Casey, by plane to Awaroa. Seeing the grassy air strip, I conclude that I prefer the boat ride!

IMG_0862I am a collector of funny traffic signs, and Helen knew about a very special one in the middle of Nelson. This is difficult to beat!

IMG_0831Our visit to Abel Tasman National Park comes to an end, and full of impressions and new experiences we head back to Marahau.

IMG_0854We say good bye to Helen and Paul and Bernie and Paula and the other good friends in Nelson. Thank you for great hospitality and good friendship. You gave us an unforgettable time and great experiences. We are already on our way to Auckland as we wave goodbye to the beauty of Nelson.

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