Garden for elderly and whānau in need proving its worth

By Dean Nathan

A garden grown to support the elderly and those in need is showing its worth in Northland during the current lockdown. Over three tonnes of Māori potatoes have already been harvested from Te Mahinga Kai o Puhi Kai Ariki.

This is some of the food harvested from crops grown late last year.

"These were grown to feed our elders and those in need who don't have food in their homes.  They can come to Te Hauora o Ngāpuhi to get some food for the week," Hirini Tau says.

"We've had a bumper crop of large Māori potatoes of all varieties.  There are peruperu, pokohinu, karu parera, karu poti and rahonika, which some call urenika."

Te Mahinga Kai o Puhi Kai Ariki is situated on part of the Taraire lands recently purchased by Te Hauora o Ngāpuhi for a housing development.  With its beautiful soil, there is no fertiliser used whatsoever so the crops are organic.

"The situation in the world now is showing us that we need to return to our past practices.  We all need to return to growing and harvesting our traditional food sources like our ancestors did.

"The name Puhi Kai Ariki is correct because to me its meaning is the food of the gods that were given to us to nourish our bodies without the use of fertiliser or chemicals," Tau says.

Te Hauora o Ngāpuhi has supplied the land and machinery to create the gardens with all the seedlings supplied by local sources.

"Our number one priority is to feed the people in our own district.  And if there is any food further to our needs then we will send it out to other districts in Ngāpuhi.  So we're awaiting those in need to call and I will prepare a parcel of Māori potatoes to send to them."

The garden signals a return to the past for future prosperity.