“On recovery, repair, and reconciliation”

Mess, brokenness, failure. These are ever-present realities that exist alongside the tidy, functioning, successful bits of life that we often prefer to focus on.

Taking an honest view, fracture is everywhere. It’s inside us, in our endless wants and our worst moments. It’s in our relationships, the hurt given to us and the things we might not be forgiven for. It’s in our communal ways of living: our consumption, our broken systems, institutions that betray the trust of communities, in deep piles of shredded political promises, and in our infinite demands on our finite natural world.

Thinking about this often feels overwhelming. The living generations have been conditioned to respond to brokenness by sweeping aside the damaged item, and replacing it with a new one.

It’s understandable. Anyone who’s ever watched a home renovation show knows that restoring things that have been neglected or broken often takes a lot more time, care, and cash than building or buying something new.

But we discover that some things are irreplaceable. The most important parts of our world are unique, and must either be restored or lost forever.

This year’s theme was chosen in December 2019, long before we had heard the now ubiquitous acronym “COVID-19,” months before we all decided we never wanted to hear the word “unprecedented” ever again.

Suddenly, notions of recovery took on a more immediate definition; the pandemic, the economic strain, the lost opportunities—all demanding a plan for how we fix this.

But as interviewees in this magazine point out, we were breaking and in need of recovery in many places prior to March 2020. The work of repair and reconciliation is a constant need—ongoing for all of us, in every place. From childhood trauma and mental health battles to political polarisation and the way we interact with nature, the stories you will read here offer a hopeful invitation to make restoration part of the way we live.

Involving ourselves in broken, messy situations is hardly ever easy or cost-free. But choosing to be part of the work of recovery is an act of hope. The repairer starts with two things: what currently is, and a vision of what could be.

The following pages illustrate how New Zealanders are already making that vision a reality. Reading them, I trust you will find encouragement, inspiration, and an invitation to pull on your gloves and get to work.

Jeremy Vargo – Editor

“The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.” – WENDELL BERRY

Jeremy Vargo

As part of his role as Communications Manager for Maxim Institute, Jeremy has had the privilege of editing Flint & Steel magazine for the last 4 years. He has previously worked some classically soul crushing roles in the retail, commodities trading, and manufacturing industries, but managed to emerge relatively unscathed. Outside of work, he has a number of interests, but the recent birth of baby Ivy has put all that on hold for a while, which is actually rather wonderful.