304 Te Mata Road, Te Mata-Haumoana, Hastings
Peloha, a grand villa in Hawke's Bay, was the homestead of the School of Radiant Living, led by Herbert Sutcliffe.
Perhaps suggestive of Hawaii, the name is not a Hawaiian word, however. It is simply formed from the first two letters of the words Peace, Love and Harmony, the founding principles of his movement.
From 1943, until the 1980s, this was the international headquarters of the movement, which is about not only peace love and harmony, but also correct breathing, vegetables and meditation. A hippie movement before hippies. A retreat centre and commune before retreats and communes. Sutcliffe was English born and trained as a psychologist before spreading the word about 'radiant health' in the United States and Australia, then to Havelock North.
In this sound clip hosted by New Zealand History, Sutcliffe (recorded not long before his death in 1971) talks about Radiant Health and Peloha. There is general recognition that this movement may have had some of the hallmarks of a cult but there is no evidence of ill-intent amongst its leaders. Indeed some of Sutcliffe's fortune went after his death toward scholarships at Victoria University, and some to the charity, Hohepa Homes.
Christchurch manufacturer Thomas Edmonds (of Sure to Rise fame) was a follower of the Radiant Health movement, his well-known rising sun emblem a clear marker of his spiritual leanings, which also featured in some Radiant Health publications. Edmonds built the Repertory Theatre in Christchurch as the Radiant Hall in 1929. Unfortunately the hall, an unusual Spanish Mission style building, did not survive the earthquakes. Another famed scholar of Radiant Living was Sir Edmund Hillary, who subscribed to the teachings of the movement for some time, having joined the Auckland branch with his family in the 1930s and continuing with it for a decade or more. He even worked as assistant to Sutcliffe, as well as becoming a teacher and public speaker in the organisation.
Nowadays, the grand villa of Peloha is home to the New Zealand branch of Weleda, an international natural health firm based on Steiner principles. They have a factory here and grow some ingredients in the grounds.