“Spending time in beautiful places, as well as eating and sharing the kai grown has brought joy to our lives. .”
What is Plantar la Kākano?
Plantar la Kākano, means to plant the seed and is the name of a maara kai situated in Lower Hutt, amongst Kāinga Ora housing. The name of this maara was chosen to acknowledge indigenous Māori and Columbian mātauranga.
My name is Pania and I’m a tenant at Croft Grove and the main kaitiaki of the maara here alongside my brother Kitene. This is our story about building a maara kai.
Kāinga Ora called a hui with tenants at Croft Grove as there were issues with rubbish dumping and vandalism. From this hui, two families (Māori and Columbian) decided to do something positive in this hood. We decided to start a garden as we were keen to learn more about gardening and composting.
We began our growing journey with support from both Para Kore and Kāinga Ora in August 2021. We came together with Lani and Te Kawa to dream up the vision for the maara and neighbourhood.
In November 2021, we, together with Lani prepared a garden bed and planted seedlings. Lani also supported us to start a bokashi system to divert our food waste from landfill and create soil for the maara kai. Lani also brought along kākano (seeds) and trays to grow our own microgreens.
We have harvested kamokamo from our maara that have been eaten already and a few squash. We loved our silverbeet and the lettuce in summer. Everybody was coming to grab some lettuce – it’s the fancy lettuce that would have cost $6 at Countdown and it was sweet and crunchy. People have come to get some spring onions. The Columbian whānau have come to grab beetroot to make chutney and they brought us a jar. We also grew kānga mā, white corn used to make kānga pirau. The Colombian whānau used it to make flour.
Impact Theme | Whakapapa and Whanaungatanga
It’s joyful to share free vegetables with whānau in the grove and help offset rising living costs. People that visit the flats are always welcome in the maara and are encouraged to take a handful of things. We are new gardeners, but we are happy to share what we have learnt about growing with anyone willing to learn. We have grown into leadership roles in our hapori.
Relationships have been developed as Lani from Para Kore, Lyn from Kāinga Ora, my brother and myself have been meeting monthly in the garden to plan and work together. Sharing time and learning from one another has been a social bonus. Growing cultural crops like kānga mā for rotten corn and kūmara connects us to the practices of our tupuna. As we better care for Papatūānuku we connect to our whakapapa and our whenua.
A change has been made to our quality of life. Kitene often speaks about how we enjoy just sitting on a bench he has made in the maara, looking out towards the river. We are proud of having created a space of beauty in our neighbourhood for everyone to enjoy. Spending time in beautiful places, as well as eating and sharing the kai grown has brought joy to our lives.