Honor’s or s healing retreat; league ue mum’s fight for her girl; the woman saving ng monarch butterflies
From the outside, ou Honor Stratton Stra has it all – a loving lovi husband, healthy ch children, a thriving business and a peaceful home ho away from the city.
But the Aucklander has clawed her way through a series of life challenges, including heartbreak from addiction, fertility issues and solo motherhood. It’s those very trials that led the mum-of-two to a rural idyll north of the city for those struggling with life.
Born in England, Honor was 19 when she first thought about volunteering. Her uncle had died from Aids, along with his boyfriend, during a time when negativity surrounded the disease, which affected many in London’s gay community.
“It was around the time Freddie Mercury died and Aids was huge, but it wasn’t talked about a lot,” she says. “There was a lot of blame on the gay community for using drugs
and being promiscuous, and it really impacted me.”
Eager to help, Honor joined as a buddy at the Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity working with HIV and Aids patients. Not long after, she met a Kiwi on his OE, who she married at 25 and spent a year with in Sri Lanka, where she learnt yoga.
“He was this amazing, gorgeous guy and the absolute love of my life,” says Honor, who moved with him to Auckland and continued her buddy work. “We spent 11 years together, but the last few were really hard. He slipped into drugs, alcohol and addiction, and couldn’t hold down a job by the end. Our bank accounts were being cleaned out and leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do emotionally.”
Not long before the marriage ended, Honor was given the sad news she probably couldn’t have kids, so when she fell pregnant at 35 after a summer fling, her world was flipped on its head.
“A lot of people around me said not to do it because it’d be too much, but I decided it’s what I’d always wanted and told myself I’d be OK,” she recalls. “I felt like I was a rising phoenix taking it on, which was empowering.”
Leaving her primary school teaching job, Honor welcomed daughter Minnie, now 12, and ran baby yoga classes to make ends meet. One day, she was told about a holistic retreat north of Auckland, called Antara.
Invited to teach yoga as a volunteer at the venue, Honor nervously clutched her four-month-old and introduced herself, setting eyes on the retreat’s thenmanager Craig Parker. Now the retreat’s chairperson, he’s also her husband and father of their son Milo, 10.
“I remember us lying on couches in the living room that first evening, chatting about everything,” she tells. “The next day, Minnie was irritable and Craig came over to help. He picked her up, rocked and held her for a bit, and then she fell asleep in his arms.”
Two weeks later, Craig turned up on Honor’s doorstep holding a fish he’d caught. “He said, ‘Do you like fish? I’d love to cook you dinner.’ He whisked me off my feet,” she smiles.
After Milo was born, Honor became quite sick. “My digestive system packed up and I had pain worse than childbirth. The doctors didn’t know what was going on, so I saw a natural health therapist, who said I was eating all the wrong foods.”
She turned to raw ingredients, smoothies and salads, before studying Ayurveda – an area of health dedicated to the digestive system – and starting her own practice. Still volunteering at Antara, she also joined its sister charity Antara Natural Health Clinic in Auckland. She’s still there, helping volunteers to provide holistic services to people who can’t afford it.
“There’s so much wisdom between those walls and it’s really busy, but we all work for free and rely on fundraising.”
Honor – who works alongside organisations like Rainbow Youth and Youthline – has supported people with all kinds of physical, mental and emotional problems. Since many guests are dealing with trauma, the retreat bans smoking, drugs, alcohol and sex, focusing on internal health with mainly organically grown, vegetarian food. It’s her hope that more people will come through the doors, leaving healthier and inspired.
“Good people can go through bad things, but we have the choice to be an inspiration to others by sharing our stories,” she says. “What’s the point of having wisdom unless we share it?”
Craig won Honor over as the baby whisperer when her daughter wouldn’t settle, then by cooking her a meal. “He whisked me off my feet,” she says.Honor-ing hher calling: Teaching yoga at Antara (right), where volunteersvo offer free holistic services.serv Below: Marrying CraCraig in 2012.
it s Inspirational mum: Honor with her children Minnie and Milo at the retreat. “There’s so much wisdom between those walls,” she says.