Aroha Valley is a community land project that began in 2011 at Woodcote homestead, and has been expanding ever since as our community grows! Designed to be a resilient platform and sanctuary for projects involving sustainability, art and technology, it is a place for inventing, experimenting and co-creating. Nestled in nature, Aroha Valley is intended to be a place for healing and adventure, as well as an opportunity for residents and visitors alike to fully express their gifts in service to a more beautiful world.
We hope Aroha Valley can showcase an integrated model of what's possible when community living, art, good food, technology, friends and family are all essential elements of a holistic, balanced lifestyle. Staying reasonably close to Wellington means that we remain connected to economic ecosystems and projects driving New Zealand. This urban/rural mix gives us the space to work towards creating scalable solutions for complex social and environmental problems, while working in harmony with our natural surroundings.
Aroha Valley is nestled in a suburb of Upper Hutt called Whiteman’s Valley. Founded and settled by the Whiteman family in 1871, it sits along the banks of the Mangaroa River and is comprised of a variety of farms, lifestyle blocks and a café. Further below us sits the Hutt Valley, which drains the Hutt River through Upper and Lower Hutt out into Te Whanganui a Tara - the Wellington Harbour. Wellington is also known as Te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui - the mouth of the fish caught by Maui, referencing the Māori legend that the North Island was a great fish that was hauled up from the depths by Maui from his canoe (the South Island)
The main hub of Aroha Valley and the New Frontiers festival is the Woodcote homestead. The house, and the land it sits on, have a rich history. In the early years, the land was used for sawmills and timbering, and later on for beef and sheep farming. When the house was built in the late 1970s, the new owner wanted the grounds to be landscaped just like an English garden, complete with English trees, flowers and a pond. Structures like the rose pergola, benches, statues, windmill and pumphouse were installed, and a few years later the Woodcote café opened. People would come from all over the region for a bite, and a walk through the Woodcote gardens. Weddings were held on the property (with more planned for the future) and the place developed a reputation for its grace and elegance. We have endeavoured to keep it this way. If you are quiet and peaceful here, you may hear voices from the past. They are calling upon us to use this land to host purposeful people at New Frontiers, and to work together to make the world a more beautiful place.
The Greenhouse Dome
The massive greenhouse dome at Woodcote is not just any old dome. Built in early 2014, it is a specially New Zealand-made and designed ‘Domegrown’ which traps heat. The sun reflects from a foil-like covering on one side of the dome, onto water-filled heat banks. As the water heats up, the dome heats up, allowing us to grow veggies all year round. Double insulation ensures that no heat escapes. The Domegrown design was originally used in the Dome to Dish programme, that installs domes in schools and teaches kids about nutrition and veggie gardening.
When the need arose to acquire furniture in Aroha Valley, we quickly decided that we could produce our own in a way that fit in with our philosophy of reducing the pressure we place on our natural environment. Over half pallets worldwide are used only once, resulting in millions of tonnes of waste wood. So we upcycled, using heat-only-treated wooden shipping pallets from local businesses. The result is high quality beds, that are strong, functional and beautiful. Win-win!
Raised Garden Beds
Our beautifully designed raised garden beds provide us with veggies for most of the year. The garden beds were designed to integrate naturally with their environment, and are built with untreated macrocarpa timber, a highly durable wood for outdoor use. The raised beds help to keep out pests, while the ‘wagon frame’ design and netting system means we can protect the vegetables from birds and frosts, which still letting beneficial insects have access to the plants.
Wildlife in the Valley
You will likely see some of our resident valley wildlife out here. The valley is home to several introduced species including rabbits, deer and wild pigs. In the trees and fields, you’ll find a number of native bird species including friendly fantails, talkative tuis, comical ground-dwelling pukekos and big, fat kereru (wood pigeons).