About riverside community
How it came to be
Riverside Community was established in 1941 by a small group of Christian Pacifists who, in the face of the 2nd World War, were eager to practice ways of communal living that were based on cooperation and sustainability and the repudiation of war. The founders of Riverside believed equality, social justice and fairness to be the main pillars of peace.
One member of the group, Hubert Holdaway, contributed 30 acres of farm land and orchard in the Lower Moutere Valley and some of the group moved there to live. Many of the men spent the war years on prison farms as conscientious objectors to the military scheme during the 2nd World War - while their wives and children lived on the community farm. After the war the Riverside Community Trust was formed, and over time more land was purchased, and hilly scrubland cleared and cultivated.
Over the past decades Riverside Community has gained worldwide recognition as an example of cooperative & communal living and is today New Zealand’s oldest intentional community.
We have come a long way from the original religious focus and consider ourselves a secular and pluralist community these days.
Yet, we see our strength in adherence to the founders’ basic principal: ‘If a group of individuals pool their resources, corperate and live simply, they can create a resource and surplus income to be used for the greater good of society’.
How it all works
The community is located in the Moutere Valley, close to Motueka and consists of 200 hectares of both flat & rolling land, with beautiful views to the mountains and the sea.
Today Riverside Community is intertwined with its Charitable Trust which has been set up to promote education and relieve poverty within New Zealand. All land and assets are owned by the Trust and Community Members are caretakers of the Trust assets and are working to fulfil the Trust purposes.
Riverside enterprises include a dairy farm and a fresh milk vending service (Riverside Milk), several options of tourist accommodation (Hostel, Sojourn), a large venue for hire suitable for weddings, workshops and other events (Riverside Community Cultural Centre), an art gallery (Che Vincent Gallery) as well as a mechanical/engineering workshop (Riverside Workshop), a joinery and organic gardens. The iconic Riverside Café is currently leased out and run by a local family who share many of the Community's values. You can also find The Food Club at Riverside Community.
There is no private ownership of houses or cars among community members. The general fund helps to meet basic needs such as health care, electricity and phone, while other needs like travel & education are subsidised. We provide meat, milk, vegetables and fruit from our farm and gardens.
We have no leader but work cooperatively and make our decisions based on consensus during our weekly meetings.
Community members receive a weekly allowance depending on the size of their family and live in individual houses in a village-like setting around ‘The Oval’, a large green area. Our children are either home schooled or attend local schools. There are currently around 20 members and their children living at Riverside. At present we also have some rental accommodation, so including our tenants, visitors and volunteer workers, our numbers can swell up to around 80 people.
We celebrate a number of seasonal festivals throughout the year. We also have a weekly ‘Community Lunch’ each Wednesday and invite the wider community to come and share with us.
Our peace focus
In the early days, members were often involved in protest action groups for peace and social justice, and to this day we strive to live our lives as a contribution to create peace in the world.
Every year the Trust allocates funds to support other charitable organisations with similar aims to ours. We also continue to engage with action groups that are working towards peace and people’s well-being in the wider community.