Topic: Health

Free vege gardens destined for Rotorua whānau and kindergartens

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Fifty-eight Rotorua families and eight local kindergartens are to be given free vegetable gardens and will be taught to grow their own food.  Te Kāea talks to Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea who has been a key figure in making this happen.

It's an initiative that began in Auckland. 

Kiripatea told Te Kāea, “This is a primary model of one of the backyard gardens that we have done and we did it over a weekend.”

My backyard garden project challenge began last year between a group of friends who shared a passion for gardening. Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea says all it required was time and effort with no cost.  After seeking sponsorship, the project took flight.  

“It's about engaging our whānau in having māra kai in their own backyards again the way our old people did and you know if we reach back into our history and that's not all that long ago a lot of our koroua and kuia had their own māra kai.”

For Rotorua, sponsorship has come in from 20 groups.  The Rotorua Youth Centre is providing their facilities as a base.  Te Arawa Whānau Ora and Tipu Ora are providing the plants.

40 families in Auckland have benefited from this programme. After advertising the challenge in Rotorua a month ago, eight kindergartens and 58 families were successful. 18 families are also on the project's waiting list.

“The response has been absolutely tremendous and it's often hard to engage the community in something so physical but I think that people are starting to pick up that gardening and māra kai is one thing that people really want to start heading back into.” 

Starting on Sunday, volunteers will meet at the Rotorua Youth Centre where they will build the gardens and deliver them to the families free of charge next week.