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The Return to Love NZ Festival 2020 was held in the local Community Centre on the Southern shore of Lake Hawea NZ, and our theme for 2020 was “Community and Connection”. As both a presenter and a participant I realised we couldn’t have chosen a better place to have it as it had a strong foundation in our chosen theme.

The Community Centre at Lake Hawea is owned and run by the local people. 


From the moment we made the booking you could feel the love and care they have for their centre and community. This was very tangibly experienced upon our arrival and throughout the duration of the festival. Nothing was too much trouble and they added unexpected caring touches. 
I loved speaking to many of the locals over the three days who were also there to connect with others in their community and engage in the regular sports and activities and meetings happening at the same time. They shared with enjoyment and pride how much they valued their community hub, and how much it supports the ongoing connections they have with each other in their community.


Our theme on a worldly level was being played out all around us.  The bowlers on the bowling green, cricketers on the oval, a committee in one of the other meeting rooms, walkers passing through to the lake and families there also enjoying the outdoor facilities.

It was beautiful to experience that as we within the Festival activities took those words even deeper. Celebrating and expanding on what Community and Connection means, and how important both are, particularly in these current unsettled times. It was easy to see that community and those connections are at the core of maintaining a healthy, loving and caring society, not only from the reflections around us, but how we are with it all from within ourselves.

I was deeply moved by how the whole festival unfolded. 

Participants came from other parts of NZ as well as locally, others from around the world via the internet, and by the end became part of a wonderful blend of unity and oneness. There was flow and fun and the sense of intimacy between us grew, not only one to one as individuals, but also as a whole group as we came to a deep and unified understanding.  

The many layers of community I could feel, including those who committed to ‘Zooming in’ via webcast from around the world, often in the middle of the night for some, was quite incredible.

Another major point was confirmed for me and that was that bringing a focus to the connection within ourselves first and foremost, how we are with ourselves, confirms and strengthens us, and then naturally this flows out into our connection with others. Into our one on one relationships, to groups, our local communities and wider, to nations and further. Global and universal. 

The potential for the entire world to live as a healthy and truly connected community, returned to the love and harmony we all have within, rather than separate and operating only from our differences, is there, it just needs to be chosen.


I feel certain, having experienced this in a microcosmic form throughout the festival that one day, with each of us claiming this back one by one, it will be.

By JM - New Zealand

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