Kiwi Pilgrimages is a New Zealand response to what is now a worldwide resurgence in the medieval concept of pilgrimage. The last 50 years has seen a huge new momentum. For example, in 1972 just 67 pilgrims were recorded as completing Spain’s Santiago de Compostela; in 2019 some 348,000 did so.
At this stage Kiwi Pilgrimages has an Auckland and North Auckland focus. The aim is to create pilgrimages that either individuals or groups can follow. These will be listed on the website with information showing their spiritual, historic and secular relevance. Routes and walking notes will be provided as well as appropriate contact names for sites not permanently open to the public.
In addition, organised pilgrimages will be advertised from time to time. These will have a specified date, leader and timetable. Each of the pilgrimages has a Bunyanesque title but this is not intended to overly emphasise the religious aspect. Even if made as part of a group the motivation will vary from person to person. Like the Canterbury Tales these pilgrimages also need to have a fun element to them. Piety and worldliness have always been in tension for any pilgrimage.
However, a pilgrimage is not just a hike or a walk. There will be something deeper propelling the pilgrim which may not be capable of being articulated or even need to be. And running parallel with any spiritual quest will always be the sheer enjoyment of getting out into the world at a more natural pace. Seeing and understanding a landscape from a walking perspective differs greatly from journeying through it by mechanised transport. Meeting and sharing with others on the journey to the same destination can also be a very life affirming experience.
John Ure in his book “Pilgrimages” has summed up pilgrimages well. “To go to see for oneself the scene of great events is a deeply ingrained human instinct. The birthplace of famous men, the field on which notable battles have been fought, the site of heroic deeds or great romances, all these have attracted secular visitors over the centuries. So it is little wonder that where people’s faith as well as their sentiments or patriotism have been involved, where human events appear to have been touched by the supernatural, the urge to go and see has been stronger. The concept of going on pilgrimage is not only of distant origin but of deep appeal.”
The traditional Christian church is in decline. Numbers are dropping and churches are closing. Interest and understanding of Christianity is fading. Many if not the majority of New Zealanders now have little knowledge of the Bible. There is little inculcated faith which the church has been able to rely on for its survival up until now.
But strangely there is one survivor that is emerging and that is “pilgrimage”. While it is now becoming almost synonymous with “tourism”, at least it is alive. It is a remnant of early church life. The challenge now is to run with it again at its deeper original meaning. This is what Kiwi Pilgrimages seeks to do.
Friday 23rd April – Sunday 25th April 2021
The northern pilgrimages are now made up of a couple days walking using the Te Araroa ( long pathway) trail in the main, to journey toward our destination – Rangihoua. As we are so far from Auckland ( our last pilgrimage finished at Matapouri on the Tutukaka coast ) we need more time allocated to just getting to the next starting point and getting safely home.
Our next pilgrimage north will have some more beautiful northern beaches to enjoy as we head from Matapouri to Whananaki.
We will be staying the two nights, Friday 23rd April and Saturday 24th April in the comfortable motels at Whananaki Holiday Park – and have plenty of time to get to know the history of the local peoples as we continue to walk both the off road coastal tracks and the Te Araroa trail.