Our eco-village is an ‘intentional’ community. That is to say members have chosen to join the community because they want to work with others towards a shared goal. Our collective aim at Otamatea is captured in the vision statement. To help us to reach this aim we work hard to find the right way to organise ourselves and make decisions.
To understand our community you must first understand our land ownership. Our total land area is about 102ha (250 acres). On this land we have created fifteen 2ha (5 acre) lots, 31ha in all. Some of these have more recently been subdivided into 2 lots. These lots are intended for private ownership by eco-village members. To have a say in the running of the eco-village you must own one of these lots or be a family member of the owner. The 71ha which does not lie in lots is owned by the eco-village collectively. The owner(s) of each section have an equal say in the management of this common land.
To ensure that the principles of the eco-village are upheld we have created a document containing Agreements for land use on private lots and community land. The Agreements are linked to the Title. Some examples of the Agreements are:
All owners contribute a number of working hours (presently 3 hrs/wk per section) towards maintenance and communal projects (road maintenance, tree planting, weeding, etc.
All the land is treated organically (in relation to pesticides and fertilizers)
Buildings will apply sustainability and permaculture principles e.g. blending with the landscape, using materials with the least environmental effect (both locally and globally), minimizing waste.
These principles of community organisation are supported by our legal structure.
The decision making body for the eco-village is the Community Meeting. Community meetings are held as needed, but generally every other month, in the community barn. Decisions (in approved minutes) of the community meeting cover all of the community’s activities and are binding on all community members.
Tasks of the Community Meeting are many and varied. We have adopted a consensus decision-making process. Though this has not always been easy, it has helped us to develop listening skills and become willing to compromise and accommodate other points of view.
Any landowner can make proposals for consideration at the Community Meeting. Proposals may take the form of, say, a new idea aimed at enhancing eco-village activities or operations, or as amendments to current Agreements.
A typical agenda might include:
Care and management of community resources.
Strategic direction and budgets for community projects.
Local and regional environmental issues.
Announcement of community and other local events.