In November, Sanson School hosted a workshop showing local teachers how to take cuttings and plant kumara using traditional Māori methods. The workshop was held by Massey University Horticulture lecturer Dr Nick Roskruge, who said that many kuia and kaumātua knew the leaves of kumara were ok for eating, but many traditions had been lost.
About 30 people went the workshop to learn more about kumara, Māori potatoes (taewa), corn (kainga), New Zealand spinach (kokihi) and pumpkin (kamokamo). Dr Roskruge was also accompanied by new horticultural students from Italy, Fiji and Papua new Guinea.
Dr Roskruge said Māori used to keep the best kumara for guests and stored them for whanau use. Kumara missing skin was not stored and was eaten immediately. "Kumara was the main carbohydrate and all the kumara were graded so that people could work out which to keep, and what to use." He kept some of the best tubers from Manawatu kumara to grow cuttings, from which Sanson School will be able to use for pupils to plant.
Massey University Horticulture lecturer Dr Nick Roskruge talks with teachers from around the region about growing kumara (November, 2016)