Sunday, December 03, 2006

Spring planting...


Spring this year has been windier and wetter than usual. Jeff Northcote provides some good daily data as well as a spring summary. My early plantings of kamo kamo have struggled - one plant even looking diseased - so I've resown several pottles under glass (well, perspex), some of which will go to Verne Pere who's going to attempt to grow kamo kamo in pots and train the buggers along a wall.

At least we've been enjoying strawberries fopr the last two weeks, first from a pot on the verandah, and lately from several new plants I put in this winter.

Tahuri Whenua has just posted a report to the Sustainable Farming Fund who have funded some of our mahi. The AGM held in September saw a good turnout enter some interesting discussion on Intellectual Property. One change to the constitution saw committee members elected to serve two years. Nick Roskruge remains chairman, Moana Puha Deputy 'Dawg', Mataroa Frew is the new secretary - Kia ora e whae!; Marie Russell treasurer; and Simon Walsh comes onto the committee while still operating as Promotions Manager, along with Richard Hunter and yours truly.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Whakatupua oranga o nga kai-a-Rongo

Change has belatedly come to the 'Matauranga Maori' theme at the National Centre for Advanced Bioprotection Technologies. Nick Roskruge is now supervising a small project on taewa, running three experimental sites to ascertain the agronomic qualities of three varieties, including their pathogens.

A second project has seen Te Ari Prendergast employed to continue the Indigenous Knowledge and agri-development project. Te Ari has the benefit of Dr. Shaun Ogilve's supervision and it is hoped they can resurrect the tarnished reputation of Lincoln and its so-called committment to Matauranga Maori. I've commented and presented on the farce that was Theme 4 at the NCABT, a research centre I was affiliated to (until being 'removed'...).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Harvest Day

March 23rd was harvest day for the taewa growing at Massey. With help from two minibus loads of Turakina juniors, the rain held off enough to get most of the crop in. Recorded for posterity by Maori t.v., the day was finished in the time honoured fashion, a hakari where yours truly gorged on the standard vegetarian fare: lucky I love spuds I guess.



Special mention must be made of our tractor driver, Simon Walsh. Sitting astride a squat green Ferrari, pulling a near antique spud digger, and only slightly bending the shaft, Simon guided the wee beast through the rows all day until we were rained off in the mid afternoon. Ka mihi au ki nga kuia, Ko Piki Winitana, me te whaea Hanui Lawrence. Tena korua!

Piki peeling pumpkins...


...Hanui and Nick dishing it up (yes that's the Ferrari driver hovering around the kai!).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ka mihi ki Pu Hao Rangi

A collaboration between Tahuri Whenua and Pu Hao Rangi Trust will see agronomy studies undertaken on old cultivars of kumara ('Sweet Potato'). Some of these old varieties are Pre-European, others are very early introductions by Europeans.

Dell fetched these back from Japan, where their value as Plant Genetic Resources was recognised when DSIR scientist Dr Douglas Yen was looking for a means to preserve them. The Māori kumara would have been lost were it not for the efforts of a Yen, who collected 617 kumara varieties from all over the world during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1963, when the collection became too big for the DSIR to maintain, Dr Yen arranged for its safekeeping in three gene banks in Japan. Interest in the collection was revived in 1988 at an ethnobotanical conference organised by the DSIR. Members of Pu Hao Rangi, a Manukau-based Māori Resource Centre, journeyed to Japan and brought back 9 New Zealand kumara varieties, 4 of which were identified as pre-European varieties. These are now cultivated by several Māori groups.

On the one hand, the efforts of Dell and others is yet another example of what I call Maori eco-cultural resilience. Also an expression of Maori actively seeking re-engagement with contemporary agri-food networks.



* Check this pdf of a Waitangi Report piece for some backround.
* Graham Harris of the Open Polytech has collected some great stuff here

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

So fresh fruit is bad for you?

Administering the New Zealand/Aotearoa diet was never meant to be easy but this is getting ridiculous. It seems that under the rules being drafted by transtasman food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (ANZFA), apples, pears and most stonefruit will be disqualified from health claims because their natural sugar levels exceed 16g per serving. Of course most media outlets ran the story as a 'shock/horror/isn't the bureacracy stupid' item, but the arbitrary line is clearly drawn in a draft document: it's open for debate, although no such debate seems to be of any great interest to Joe and Joanne Public. Submissions on the draft are open until March 31, with standards finalised by the end of the year. Here's a draft report on health policy and nutrition from ANZFA, compiled in May of last year.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Kamo Kamo in a Sockburn Summer




The plants have grown a lot since the whanau went on a tiki tour (...to our marae, Te Kuha, southside Waikaremoana). Some hint of a virus, possibly picked up from an infected courgette plant I had in the same plot. Fruiting nicely though.

Dug some early taewa for Christmas, with plenty more to come.
Simon Lambert

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