CBD iwi revives its farming past

By Ropata Matthews

Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei's horticulture project

What was once a pony club in the past is now a lush garden of produce and nutrition for the people of Ōrākei.

Pourewa is a horticulture initiative by Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei, which is growing produce for its people and the wider community of the area.

The ancestral lands of Pourewa were once occupied in pre-European times by the Ngāti Whātua ancestor, Paora Tūhāere.

”We are very mindful to ensure we are listening to our kaumatua and our kuia about what they want to be eating: ‘Yes we like Kale but we like puhā more’,” garden manager Dane Tūmahai says.

There have been a lot of good outcomes from this initiative such as employment of whānau from Ōrākei and harvesting of kūmara.

Living wages

It has been over 100 years since kumara has grown and harvested by the mana whenua on the lands of Pourewa, and today marks a special day in the Māori calendar and a milestone for kaimahi of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei - harvesting kūmara to provide food for the people of Ōrākei.

 Tūmahai was the very first employee for Pourewa Gardens. As of today 14 kaimahi have been employed, the majority of them from Ōrākei.

With the minimum wage being raised to $20 per hour, Ngāti Whātua has deliberately started its kaimahi on a minimum of $22.10 which is the current living wage. 

Although Pourewa gardens and the iwi of Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei are surrounded by the city scape of Auckland Central, the fruits of their labour are revitalising the traditions of their ancestors.