By Pauline Stewart
Sacred garden is worth a few visits. It’s a shop because you can buy many different and beautiful things, yet none of them could be termed a homeware or material addition to your life. Everything is to be used or worn for a health or spiritual purpose.
It’s also a space to linger in and take in the music and soft fragrance of a candle or incense. You won’t be hassled.
In essence, it is true to its name - there an atmosphere of reverence for life in this shop, tucked away o your left in the half arcade next to the Westpac bank in Albert Street, Whitianga.
Donna Butterworth and Pippi Pieterse opened the Sacred Garden in 2022. The shop used to be the front face of a local collective called, “Made with Love”. It was a collective of local people, of their goods and their creations. It no longer exists. These two women have teamed up as business partners, combining their experiences with business and their commitment to alternative lifestyles to own and operate Sacred Garden, which is as much a lifestyle and vocational statement as it is a shop.
They are a gentle force to be reckoned with and they live their talk. Donna says, “Pippi and I are at home with alternative living. It is who we are. We just didn’t decide this way of life because it is something trendy to do or to suddenly save the planet. I have always been like this. I used to work with truancy, helping kids who are missing school, and started the Breakfast Club. I went through a period of being unwell and the medical system just did not work well for me. In fact, I went down a very bad medical road and came to the point where I could not keep going like this. So I turned to reading about alternative medicine and I started growing herbs. Over seven years ago, I studied herbs under Malcolm Barker. In all this time, I found that the herbs were the best medicine for me. I never looked back after that.”
Pippi says, I came to this from a different route. I was a thoroughly modern miss”, she grins. “I used to work in the corporate world with a real wage and real job. But I ‘saw the light,’” and she grins again, but there is nothing lighthearted in her intention to explain who she is.
“I was living in Auckland commuting an hour each way. sitting in front of a computer nine hours a day. I could see something in me was dying; that my life was not sustainable - to live in that way. I needed to make a change. My husband, Louis, was feeling the say way as I was. We were living a life that was what we thought we should be doing.”
Pippi continues, “Our best friends were living in Uganda and they said, ‘come and just be here’ and off we went to spend time with them. We really both moved to Uganda to get away from everything. We stayed a year. The great positives were freedom and lifestyle. We were in nature a lot. We needed to make a living, and we ran a backpackers lodge in the middle of the River Nile in Egypt for a while. I kept getting sick with malaria typhoid and exhaustion and my husband also got malaria. That was a hard time from a health point of view.
We went to South Africa after that period and I went to see a Chinese doctor who gave me some natural remedies. It was not my first encounter, as I already had an intuitive awakening to chemical products. But his medicine helped me a lot and I started looking at all the products that I used and decided to as much as possible, stop the chemicals. I realised for me that I didn’t want chemicals in my system anymore.”
We returned to New Zealand because it was home.
I had a shop In Tirau for five years, a little bit like Sacred Garden, but we had always wanted to live in Whitianga. It is my favourite place in the world. My mother came here every year from the time she was eleven years old and she continued that tradition with us. We came here camping as kids and now my partner and I have finally moved here. We needed to find a place for our tiny house and we did. This is home now for me and Louis.
Donna says, “We have a lot of local products because we make all our local products
Our focus is healing and finding wellbeing” , says Donna.
“And so we wanted to offer products that have helped us and we endorse people who are looking to heal and grow. Our products work together well; I do crystals and jewellery, says Pippi, “and Donna does the balms, herbal balms, candles, medicinal oils and herbal teas. She offers a wonderful range of pure plant medicine.” Donna’s brand is ‘Blondeez – herbals’, her own sole trader company in medicinal herbs. Pippi has her own brand for stones, crystals, jewellery, and bracelets, called ‘Pippi’s creations’. Both Donna and Pippi sense that humans are being led astray in what we are meant to believe. They advocate that healing is about emotional, spiritual, physical and mental holistic healing not just fixing up one part of the body with chemicals.
“We offer products that help facilitate healing and growth. People also want to talk about what’s not right in their spirit or body. It’s not surface conversation”, says Donna. “We are a space for people to be. Some come in and just burst into tears and they don’t know why.”
Pippi is 41 and I would need to say she can pass for 24, she is vibrant and strong and vital.
“My own wellbeing is very important, but not in a selfish sense. I want to help others and I can if I am well. Our lifestyle is set up so that we can be well. I said before that we came here with our tiny house. We live in it and it has transformed us and simplified our life. We used to live in a large house. There was so much cleaning to do and it required so much energy. Our life seems to flow where we are and its not a rigid timetable. It makes you live minimally but we feel better purging all the things that we simply did not need.”
Pippi is a rock enthusiast and spends a lot of time fossicking for her own rocks for The sacred garden. “I find a lot of stones here and I tumble them myself and some of them I just keep and some I sell. It takes six weeks of tumbling to get the rocks ready so I have to be careful as to how many rocks I have because, and the grin returns ,”we live in a tiny house.”
“We offer products that help facilitate healing and growth. People also want to talk about what’s not right in their spirit or body. It’s not surface conversation”, says Donna.