Living off the land a life-changing experience - There's a lesson for everybody

00:28, Feb 09 2013
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Matt Rilkoff celebrates the end of the Wild Appetite series with the people he met along the way.

Even before my chickens woke up my Friday morning home was clouded with the aroma of curried goat.

After that I prepared the pork spare ribs, the tuna kebabs, the mussel fritters and a variety of sauces to feed everyone who had helped me over the past 11 days living off the land.

"How many venison steaks should I bring," my deer hunting guide Phil Mohi said.

"You can use my barbecue if you want," my neighbour Phillipa Parker said.

"Sorry Matt but I forgot the bloody wild sheep," Mokau fishing expert Steve McEwen said when I called him to rendezvous for the roast he had promised.

"I was in that much of a rush this morning."


It didn't matter. There was more than enough to go around and it was satisfying to be able to offer something to everyone who had been so generous over the past two weeks.

There was Steve who took me cliff fishing at Mokau, Ray Potroz, who defied the odds and found us a pig, Connie Bethell, who let me squeeze the teats of her beloved jersey cow Madeline, and Alex Wolf, who bagged us four goats.

Then there was Herb Spannagl who helped me hunt down three huge albacore tuna, Stephen and Fiona Black, of BeesRus, Alistair McColl and his fantastic family in Ahititi and then, of course, Jesse Sigurdsson at Mike's Brewery in Urenui.

My experience over the past fortnight has shown me a world where people don't work from nine to five, where amassing money isn't their main goal and where sharing time with friends and food is what everything really boils down to.

These are happy people. More than learning how to feed myself from the land it was meeting them that made the experiment valuable and life-changing, in a small but significant way.

As Paul Bielski said over a cup of tea in the hunting bach of his South Taranaki property: "There is another life out there. Another life that doesn't revolve around phones, video games and computers.

"It's there for everyone to take," he said.

"They just have to get out and do it." It really is that easy.

Next week: Wild Appetite feature story.

Taranaki Daily News