One Day at Riverside


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A unique way of life that has flourished for almost 80 years near Motueka. Could you live here?

At Riverside they don’t much care for the word ‘commune’. They prefer ‘Intentional Community’.

Around 60 people live on the 200 hectare property near Motueka - a unique way of life that has flourished for almost 80 years.

Verena Gruner, who arrived at Riverside in 2003, says she couldn’t imagine “doing anything else, and never would.”

“Community is more than sharing stuff,” she says. “It’s about really sharing lives and being with each other as a normal part of life every day.”

Members pool their incomes into a common pot which is then redistributed equally - around $120 per week for each adult member and an allowance for children.

The community provides a house, power and medical costs, along with milk, meat and produce.

The majority of the members work on the property. The dairy farm is Riverside’s main source of income, both as a supplier to Fonterra and via sales of raw milk direct to the public at the farm gate.

Other income-generating businesses on site include sculptor Che Vincent’s gallery, and a mechanical workshop.

Cam Harris-Mackay who services the community’s fleet of shared, old-model cars, describes Riverside as being like a “small New Zealand town back in the 50's where we all know each other.”

He enjoys the time he gets to spend with his family.

“In the capitalist world the harder I work and more time I spend at work the better off my family is and here there's a shift, the more time I can spend with my family the better off my family is.”

97 year-old Merle Hyland is the only original member still living on site. She was one of the Christian Pacifists who established Riverside in 1941.

Merle’s husband, a conscientious objector, was imprisoned during the war along with others from the community.

“I became a strong protester against war as a way of solving the world's problems,” says Merle.

Today’s members says they’re grateful to pioneers like Merle, who paved the way for a peace-loving and self-sustaining way of life.

Riverside residents range in age from one to 97, and prospective members are welcome to visit, especially those that are “young, energetic and want to be part of an intentional community."