Rongomātāne: Garden crops, e.g. kūmara, hue, with qualities of peace, order, provision, cultivation
A community approach to a garden system has led to successfully developing a range of food growing māra in Hastings, thanks to the support of an Earthwise fund and a lot of local knowledge and mahi! The mahi has been driven by a motivated team who have pulled together across two schools and brought something magical to both kura.
At Hastings Intermediate School (HIS), the vision of our food gardens has evolved through 2022 and has seen some positive outcomes for the students learning, environment, garden area, mātauranga Māori and community. Many projects were on the go and they eventually merged to become productive for our tamariki and community. The team started at the grassroots. New garden areas were mapped out and grass and soil were lifted to create garden beds.
We pooled many resources to assist with establishing our māra. Community members came in and gave support with their expertise to assist with the hua rākau/fruit trees and the buildings that were already in place and in disrepair. The kaupapa for the māra was great and took many hours and conversations of pulling people together for the benefit of the Mātauranga that was shared with all.
Students from Hastings Boys’ High School (HBHS) did a lot of the muscle work with the whenua, while HIS developed the smaller planter systems within small groups across 4 classrooms. A special project was also initiated by Te Kōkiri, who planted hue (gourds) for future use. HIS students came from across each house group with their teacher aides in support. HBHS utilised their year 9 and 10 horticulture students. A collaboration to develop something special that could provide whānau and staff with the taonga that had been grown. A few months after mass planting, care and maintenance, and further planning of the next stages and growth path, we saw harvesting taking place where students learnt the rewards from the care of the māra and could then feed our whānau of HIS.
The next stage of the vision in 2023 is that we develop a māra kai koha stand for whānau to come and help themselves, with the kaupapa of come get a feed, pull a weed and plant a seed, thus developing some community education from our students and staff. Once the greenhouse and nursery are repaired in 2023 (again part of the bigger picture within our vision), this will hopefully run sufficiently well that we can also offer education to our community to help them develop their own māra kai at home. Students will be the leaders for this kaupapa. Already many have taken home the knowledge developed during their mahi and are growing their own māra at home. The mahi has been rewarding to all on many levels.
The mahi has been driven by a team of motivated teachers bringing something magical to both kura. HBHS is now developing a community taro grove for the benefit of our Pasifika community. HIS students will drive the main māra while our HBHS whānau develop the compost system and taro grove.
There are a lot of ambitious goals ahead of us in 2023, with lots of grass to be mown and kiwifruit trees to be pruned and grafted. Projects in the pipeline to be maintained and ideas developed further.
Planning: Initial planning of creating a space that can be a sustainable collective ahu māra, where students, staff, community members and volunteers felt a sense of belonging.
Mahi ā Mahi: working with our whenua is ongoing. The students are gaining the insight of manaakitanga in a practical way, with our school value of how we treat each other being the same principle with the whenua.
Clearing and Composting: developing friendlier insecticides and pest control from insect, animal to weed. A compost area has been cleared to establish a system that can support HIS to be more green in how we manage our kai waste from the MOE lunches and the māra kai.
Seedling Nursery: developing a partnership with our community and key māra experts to support the nursery. We have a fantastic nursery that is in disrepair. This is a project for 2023.
Green/shade House: Once again an amazing resource that has laid dormant for many years. A focus in 2023 will support a possible ‘garden to table’ kaupapa from the Tech team.
Orchard: An orchardist has supported the care and pruning of some very old fruit trees. In 2023 we are hoping to learn further about how we can best care for these trees and produce some amazing fruit.
Community outreach: Once again connecting with our community in order to gage support for the continued vision of the ‘ahu māra’.
Planning: working alongside HBHS; continuing a collaborative focus with the team. HIS – developing a ‘māra’ club which will see 60+ students involved.
Maramataka: learning more about the maramataka and connecting with Matariki and local pūrākau.
Banner photo: A mix of leafy greens planted in the newly developed area.