My Account

Village Structure/ Ethics/ Rules


How do you choose who can become a settler, do we need to fill in some forms, send a cv?

We would all meet you, you meet us and we all decide if it is a good fit for each other.  Here is a link to the settlers process.

Would the lease be inherited to my children?

Yes, in the event of the death of the lease owner the Lease may be assigned to whoever are their beneficiaries,  provided that such beneficiaries agree to comply with and be bound by the terms of the Lease.

Will you welcome a couple in their early 50’s with no children but a dog? Or do you just want young families?

Yes!  50’s with a dog is wonderful!  We want diversity!

Can I only build 1 dwelling or is a granny flat possible? Just imagining my life as an older person – may want my son to live in house (which won’t be large anyway), me to live in granny flat.

Through the lease agreement we are restricted to have no more than 150m sqr of roof on our site, and to build on the approved building site marked on the section – this is to make sure that we don’t end up with a big house on the wrong spot that the next person (if one left) will have to deal with.
If someone need more space, or to build in a different spot they will need to go to the land trust and have it approved by the board.
Regarding “rules” – I also think that it is important to have a common understanding and expectation of both building materials (which should primarily come from renewable resources) and design (aesthetically). Are there already made any “guidelines” for that – before the building process of the settlers begin?
All design plans for building will need to be approved by the trust.
though, we do not aim to have this as a barrier to cross, rather as a mutual process for everyone to learn and go through together, plan and design together think of solutions together and so on.
at the moment we have what we call ‘design night’ every Thursday, we all meet, put on the board design issues to deal with, and trying to bring forward solutions. this is no obligatory, but a great tool to use.
we have developed a ‘generic design’ for housing, this is simple, high quality, natural, cheap, comfortable and local with possibility for modifications, so that those of us who want, can easily and cheaply go through the district council with those plans, as well, our development company – Kotare Commons, is able to build these houses for you.

How is Koanga Institute involved?

The Kotare Village is a project of the Koanga Institute.  Kotare Village is a natural progression of what the Koanga Institute has been doing for the past 30 years.  Historically the Koanga Institute has focused on saving our heritage food plants, including vegetable seeds and fruit trees. It has evolved over the years and today the Institute is moving its focus towards becoming a leading centre for regenerative living.

“Koanga Institutes mission is to inspire, encourage and support regenerative self-reliant communities by: Protecting, developing and sharing our NZ heritage food plants, researching, experiencing and sharing knowledge on regenerative systems, and engaging with others to facilitate the adoption of a regenerative culture.” –Koanga Institute web page


This is a great way to make farming land available to all. As there will be many leaseholders, each with their own section of land, will the design allow for free access to all parts of the property?

We see a strong network of tracks and ‘reserve’ areas which will cover most areas of the farm. Where land is under private lease or share farming arrangements, then access to this land will be at the discretion of the person leasing or managing that land.


Who are the land Trust owner/s?

The Kotare Community Land Trust (KCLT) owns all the land, and the trustees for the trust are voted on to the board by the membership of the trust every year.



there are two types of membership of the KCLT.

  1. Those who own homestead leases (settlers)
  2. The trust board of the Koanga Institute.

As members is there any thing that we will be expected, or obliged to do such as attend meetings, do community work, cook and eat communally? Will members be free to do their own thing if they wish, be private and free to express their individual preferences?

You will be expected to conform to the conditions of your house site lease, including paying an internal rate, which will cover your share of the external rates, plus your share of maintenance of common infrastructures (roads, water, power reticulation, community facilities and reserves, in much the same way as your are expected to pay rates to the District Council for similar facilities ). You are not obliged to come to meetings, do ‘community work’ or eat communally. You can be a hermit if you choose to do so.


I have been having a look (on the web) at other such enterprises in NZ including Otamatea and also getting the ‘flavour’ of your own vision on your website. All have a common governing principle which is permaculture – or organic farming. There are quite major differences though – the Otamatoa Ecovillage vision/practice is much less prescriptive and the jointly owned land seems to be mostly in beef fattening. Also – the 5 acre lots (15) have freehold title with no restriction on resale pricing. It seems too, that some/most owners work outside the village – while contributing community hours to the common land and projects. Also the owners of each section have an equal say in the management of the common property – ie each is a Trustee. Your own vision is for the direction of the village to be in the hands of a board of trustees representing tenants and possibly the local community “selected for their ability to hold and manage a vision” which for me rings warning bells of trouble ahead! Who decides which members have these qualities and which ones don’t?


It is interesting that the idea of directors rings alarm bells for you, we probably would have felt the same thing ten years ago. we’ve reached this position after the following observations/experiences;

1. Both Otamatea and Kohatu Toa have all title holders being directors, our experience with Kohatu Toa and my observation of Otamatea, are that this situation is like an extended partnership (with all the problems of partnerships) and that both communities have spent considerable time fighting amongst themselves, and have reached a point where they do nothing that will threaten a consensus of peaceful coexistence as good neighbours. They certainly don’t perform much proactive community development – partly because of the entrenched wariness of cooperating and partly for other reasons which I will go into later.

2. Our limited understanding of other ‘Ecovillages’ around the world, is that many of them are in a similar situation.

3. Kay and Bob have spent two years embedded in a Maori community, and also spent considerable time in the past studying the existing (imposed) Maori land tenure systems. While we dont claim to be experts, we have found the existing governance and land management structures that have been imposed on many maori land blocks (with multiple shareholding) have developed disturbingly similar culture to that of Kohatu Toa and Otamatea, where nothing gets done outside the square to avoid conflict, and where the easy consensus is to do nothing (or lease blocks out to Pakeha corporates) and go and work in town.

4. One of the abiding principles we hold, after being deeply involved in Permaculture design, is that we should always spend considerable time observing the patterns of how things are (or how they work) out in the real and ‘natural’ world, and that we should be very wary of designing systems that are radically different from the ‘normal’ patterns. we dont see partnerships working out in the real world, apart from the ‘marriage’ of two or more people (and many would say this is not working much either) . we believe once we get outside families and extended families (where there is also obvious and unwritten leadership roles) it is a natural pattern to have leadership roles exert themselves ( and these usually get more elaborate as numbers grow). These will happen whether we like it or not. If we pretend that they wont, and set up systems to avoid it then they will express themselves covertly, and so the struggle begins. we would much rather see overt leadership accepted – honest and transparent. Then the issue becomes how do we choose the leadership and how do we change it, and how do we ensure it is fair and effective etc etc.

5. As to “Who decides which members have these qualities and which ones don’t? every year, during an AGM of the KCLT ( Kotare Community Land Trust) the 2 classes of members of the trust come together, the Koanga Institute Board, and the Lease Holders, each class elects 2 trustees, the 4 elected trustees are able to co-opt 1-2 more trustees.