History

Jim and Lynn's house became the Community House; a venue for meetings, shared meals and parties - in many ways, the heart of the Community. By 1983 the council had reluctantly agreed to six more building permits, all as sleep-outs to the permitted Community House.

But such restrictive regulations were about to change. Rainbow Community was not the only place in Golden Bay where home-made housing had been springing up. A Rural Resettlement Association had been formed calling for change and in 1983 the District Scheme was altered. Under new provisions Rainbow was able to apply for recognition as a Rural Commune and was granted it - while holding its collective nose at what was felt to be an inappropriate, even offensive, term.

In 1975 Bill, Carol and another Kiwi couple became Rainbow shareholders. Also that year, a group from Christchurch, the Happisam Trucking Co (actually an incorporated society) bought adjacent land.
Today Happisam is a thriving community in its own right and good relationships exist between their members and those of Rainbow Community.

 

When Simon arrived in 1976 he had already begun a partnership with Carol. Then, when Robyn and her two young daughters arrived, they soon teamed up with Bill. Other new members joined, including Anne and partner Gregor.

But 1977 was a year of change. Peter and Mary Jane no longer wanted to be part of the Community and other members had to buy them out.
Then Jim and Lynn returned to the United States, leaving their partly built house to the Community. They also left their money in the Company, enabling Rainbow's second wave of members to retain the land.
Lynn had chosen the new name "Rainbow Valley" when they first explored the land, so Rainbow Valley Company Limited was formed to be the partners' legal entity and they became equal shareholders. In midwinter they moved into the barn and Rainbow Valley Community was born.

The third couple was eventually not allowed to immigrate to NZ, which left $5,000 owing on the land. The shortfall was made up by loans from newfound friends.

Peter and Jim found jobs at the local cement company and the barn was made livable. Looking ahead to self-sufficiency, Mary Jane led the way in putting in a half-acre garden.

Alternative communities were the coming thing in NZ. Prime Minister Kirk's pioneering Ohu Scheme was underway and Tim Jones, gathering material for his book "A Hard Won Freedom", visited Rainbow twice in 1974. He saw its potential as enormous. (Tim's son Simon would later join.) Bill and Carol with a new baby visited in late 1974, the first of Rainbow's current members to arrive.
In that first summer a local newspaper announced "substandard accommodation" at the Rainbow barn and a long battle with the local council over housing was sparked off.

The Rainbow settlers, who were seen as "hippies", were given notice to vacate the barn and Jim made plans for a new house to which they were entitled; only one, because the district scheme at that time made no provision for multiple ownership.

In June of 1974 Lynn and Jim met up with Peter and Mary Jane in Golden Bay. They were shown Glovers Flat whose owner was moving to Australia and had put it on the market only days before.

 

103 hectares were purchased for NZ $25,000. The few fences would not contain cattle or sheep and the only existing structure was a rather old three-sided barn. About 26 hectares of flat land were accessible by rough road. Another 37 hectares lay on Roses Flat across the Anatoki River, much of it in bush and gorse. The other 40-hectare block was steep and forested.

In 1973 three couples planned a back-to-the-land venture in New Zealand, though all but one of them were US citizens. Regarding NZ as a better place for raising families than Nixon's USA, they agreed to pool resources and to farm as a group. By American standards they were not particularly rich but they knew that cheap NZ land could be found.

Peter (the one New Zealander) and partner Mary Jane, began the search. At Waitati near Dunedin, they met Bill and Carol who expressed interested in the planned venture.
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Rainbow Valley is situated at Glovers Flat on the Anatoki River and borders Kahurangi National Park. The road from Takaka winds through three kilometers of bushy gorge to reach the Community. By car the trip into town takes twenty minutes.
Glovers Flat had a brief gold rush in 1857. From the 1940s the Holmwood family - farmers and saw millers - owned the land. Rainbow's Community House is built on their old sawmill site.