Story: Communes and communities

Hay barn, Sunburst ohu

A dog, a rooster and several residents mill around the Sunburst community's hay barn. Sunburst received approval under the government's ohu scheme in 1974, and was the first ohu (intentional community) to be established. Ohu is a Māori word meaning a communal working group.

Sunburst residents – a loose group of friends who had lived together in Auckland and the Hokianga – had to carve their settlement out of the bush on the 80 hectares they were allotted on the Coromandel Peninsula. The land lacked vehicle access until a neighbouring farmer bulldozed a track, and residents rigged up a flying fox to transport supplies across the Rangihau River. Sunburst lasted about six years.

Listen to some Sunburst residents singing the praises of the community, and an interview with a member about the more giving way of life that they hoped to practise.

Using this item

Private collection
Photograph by Shirley Gruar

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

Sound file from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Ngā Taonga (Ohu community, Reference number 36130)

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How to cite this page:

Caren Wilton, 'Communes and communities - Communes: 1960s and 1970s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/speech/28111/hay-barn-sunburst-ohu (accessed 22 August 2019)

Story by Caren Wilton, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 4 Apr 2018