Stories of New Zealanders who have chosen to live self-sufficient lifestyles, off-the-grid, are the focus of a new book from Craig Potton Publishing releasing this month.
Outsiders: Stories from the fringe of New Zealand society by Gerard Hindmarsh profiles 21 individuals and 4 families who in different ways came to live independently of mainstream society, often living miles into the wilderness, far from civilisation and all its comforts.
The book begins with the legendary nineteenth century prospector William O’Leary for whom two South Island mountain passes are named and whose life inspired Denis Glover’s sequence of 20 poems Arawata Bill. The final story in the book is of the similarly wandering lifestyle of Bruce Reay who decided he wanted to live in the bush after graduating with a degree in forestry from the University of Canterbury in the late 1970s. Bruce lives along the full length of the West Coast from Kahurangi to Fiordland, trapping and trading live eels and possum pelts for income and revisiting fishing grounds only once in every 10 years.
Others profiled include Tom Neale who lived alone on a tiny Pacific atoll for many years like a real life Robinson Crusoe, and Tim and Ngaire Te Aika who raised a family on Stewart Island at a time when it could take 9 hours to travel from their farm to reach the Mainland.
“Much of the time I found that the people I was interviewing simply wanted to stay out of the rat race,” says Gerard. “They wanted the satisfaction of fending for themselves, proving to themselves – if no one else – that they could do it.”
“They’re inspiring stories, and a little bit cautionary too. It has lead me to reflect on my own life. I think a lot of people today are looking for ways to provide for ourselves, looking for ways to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. ”
Outsiders: Stories from the fringe of New Zealand society is available from bookstores and libraries nationwide and online from www.craigpotton.co.nz