Rotorua community group wants to make Kūmara affordable

Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea's concerns grew following the hike in price for a kilo of kūmara, which rose from $4.92 to $8.99.

Now he hopes to create a kūmara bank with the aim of making Kūmara affordable for families in Rotorua.

Puhi Mitchell is tasked with the job of showing students the process of harvesting kūmara.

She believes that growing your own food is the only way to cut costs to your food bill.

“It's shocking, the rising costs- you don't have to put up with it- you can grow kai in your backyard and you can store it for a long time,” says Mitchell.

There are 14 different varieties of kūmara being harvested in a pilot programme under Kai Rotorua, a community group that looks to promote sustainable gardening.

Te Arawa elder, Te Ariki Morehu says, “If we look at our food now we don't know where it comes from”.

According to Statistics NZ, the cost of Kūmara has increased in NZ by 83 percent.

For this reason, Kiripatea pushed for the establishment of the programme.  Firstly, to look at growing kūmara and secondly, to make it affordable.

“These are trials really, more than anything else.  Next year we will have a much better idea of where we give that kūmara to but to answer your question at the moment they will remain the product of Kai Rotorua,” says Kiripatea.

Kai Rotorua hopes to continue with the project and next year hope to double the size of their production.