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 ( 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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