Harvest the Kumara

‘In bygone days, Tohunga Maori (Maori wise men and women) with a special knowledge of the stars spent much time studying the stars. The movement of the nga whetu (the eternal shining ones) followed a seasonal cycle, as did the Earth below, so that their rising and setting marked the progression of the seasons. Certain stars were said to bring the seasons into existence and to send down to the earth the foods that became available at the times of the year associated with them. Such links were the basis of a celestial calendar.’ (Astronomy NZ.)

May in New Zealand and Autumn is crisp and clear. The full moon on Wednesday was met with wonder and excitement by Sophie and a visit to ‘Treaty2U exhibition‘ reminded me of the importance of educating the girls on both their European heritage and the history of their birth country, New Zealand.

I have always held an interest in learning more of the Maori customs and this was enhanced whilst working for WWF-New Zealand (initially as a volunteer, where I became interested in various native plants and their uses by Maori people for cooking and healing, and later as an employee). There are so many wonderful environmental community projects in New Zealand with so many links to Maori ancestry and the people of today. A local project (close to my heart, since I spent many weekends – prior to the children – clearing weeds and planting) is Manawa Karioi, in Island Bay. Manawa Karioi is the vision of Bruce Stewart who, in the Maori tradition of ohaki, wishes to ensure that the land, once again returned to the forest and the birds, will remain available always as a place of peace and inspiration for the people of Wellington.

Marae and Nursery at Manawa Karioi:

It excites me that the cycle of learning is never ending and with my children I am continually spurred on. Life if a journey of learning and today we collected leaves of different trees to make a picture for my dear Grandma.

Winter is approaching and with it Matariki, marking a new phase of life and the indigeneous, Aotearoa, New Year.