Words from the wise

Kiwi ac­tor Bruce Hop­kins shares the wis­dom he’s found on the trail from Cape Reinga to Ste­wart Is­land, as well as in his role as a grand­par­ent

Nadia - - CONTENTS - Hear more about Bruce’s jour­ney in The Long Way Home, a podcast on RNZ – • ra­dionz.co.nz.

Ac­tor Bruce Hop­kins shares the wis­dom he’s found tramp­ing the length of the coun­try

This past sum­mer, Bruce Hop­kins has been tak­ing on the Te Araroa trail, which cov­ers more than 3000 kilo­me­tres be­tween the tip and toe of Aotearoa. His mis­sion is per­sonal – a quest to bring the ashes of his fa­ther and brother to rest on Ste­wart Is­land – as well as phil­an­thropic, as he is also aim­ing to raise money for the char­ity Grand­par­ents Rais­ing Grand­chil­dren. Bruce shares the mo­ti­va­tions be­hind his odyssey, as well as some in­sights into the chal­lenges of grand­par­ent­ing.

What com­pelled you to un­der­take this jour­ney?

Upon hear­ing of the ex­is­tence of Te Araroa, I had an im­me­di­ate feel­ing that this was the fi­nal piece in the puz­zle of my be­long­ing to these won­der­ful South Pa­cific is­lands. More rea­sons quickly piled up, in­clud­ing walk­ing the spirit of my fa­ther, Bill, and brother, Doug, back to our orig­i­nal home, Ste­wart Is­land, all the way from where Dad, Doug and I used to be com­mer­cial cray­fish­ers off Cape Reinga/te Rerenga Wairua. It is also part of the legacy for my chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. The last, hugely sig­nif­i­cant in­spi­ra­tion is rais­ing aware­ness and funds for a vi­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, Grand­par­ents Rais­ing Grand­chil­dren.

What are you en­joy­ing most about your tramp?

As a whakatauki goes in te reo, “He tan­gata, he tan­gata, he tan­gata...” It is the peo­ple. There are those you meet on the trail or at camp­sites who are also on this 3000-kilo­me­tre odyssey. Once you sur­vive 90 Mile Beach and the four North­land forests you have an in­stant bond with oth­ers who’ve done it. Then there are the trail an­gels who of­fer var­i­ous forms of gen­eros­ity, be it a hot shower or a meal. An ex­am­ple is a cou­ple, Fiona and An­thony in Palmer­ston North, who have built a replica DOC hut in their back­yard for tram­pers to stay in overnight. Other than the peo­ple, there are un­for­get­table mo­ments such as the qui­etude in the depths of a na­tive for­est.

What chal­lenges have you had to over­come? And what have you learned from them?

My big­gest chal­lenges are around trusting my­self. I have not been a tram­per; in fact this is my sec­ond ever tramp af­ter a two-day trip into the Kaimai Range in prepa­ra­tion for this trip. There are the im­me­di­ate chal­lenges that arise ev­ery day, such as the legs or the body reach­ing a level of ex­haus­tion or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some pain from var­i­ous ail­ments such as blis­ters. I have been try­ing to live in the present mo­ment for many years and now on the trail I am learn­ing to re­ally live that out.

Why did you choose to sup­port Grand­par­ents Rais­ing Grand­chil­dren?

I have three grand­chil­dren, Char­lie, 9, Gra­cie, 4, and Fred­die, 1. I try to spend time with them each week and I have thought over the years how full on it would be if I had to raise my mokop­una. I met a guy who was on the board of GRG and I looked at their web­site. One of the trustees be­came involved af­ter he had to go and pick up his grand­child from school and fig­ure out how to tell his grand­child that Mum was dead as Dad had killed her that day. He and his part­ner had lost their daugh­ter but had to step straight into the par­ent role. That blew me away. I am de­ter­mined to help raise the pro­file of this re­al­ity and GRG in our com­mu­ni­ties.

What life lessons have your grand­chil­dren taught you?

They en­able me to stay young of mind and heart, and their pres­ence in my life has taught me to stay present to un­con­di­tional love.

What ex­pe­ri­ences have shaped your jour­ney thus far?

Stay­ing for four nights with a cou­ple who are rais­ing their 6-year-old grand­child. You see the love but you also see that this is a de­mand­ing and drain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple in their six­ties or older. I have been in­spired to con­tinue my re­la­tion­ship with GRG once I finish Te Araroa. I have had a num­ber of days dur­ing the tramp that were in­cred­i­bly chal­leng­ing in the mo­ment.

When I ac­knowl­edge that I have just com­pleted these chal­lenges I feel a real sense of self-be­lief.

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