May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

New book to aid taewa (Maori potatoes) growers

2 min read

A new book by a leading horticulturalist aims to give growers of Maori potatoes (taewa) a comprehensive guide to the pests and diseases the crop is susceptible to.

Ng Prearea me ng Matemate o ng Mra Taewa: Pests and diseases of Taewa (Mori potato) includes research carried out by staff from the Institute of Natural Resources Dr Nick Roskruge (Te Atiawa) and postgraduate students Aliese Puketapu (Te Atiawa) and Turi McFarlane (Te Atiawa).

Dr Roskruge says the book will be an important reference tool for growers. Theres a burgeoning interest in growing these crops, he says. So what weve done here is put what we know about them into a book that growers can use to help them succeed.

The book covers pests, including insects, birds and other animals, that eat or damage crops. It also includes the viruses, fungi and bacterial diseases to which the crop is susceptible.

The main issue we have at the moment is the potato psyllid, an insect that can reduce yields by up to 80 per cent, but there are other diseases that can be equally damaging.

Beneficial organisms are also outlined as their identification can help control pests. Pests have natural enemies, but these beneficial organisms are susceptible to insecticides and sometimes fungicides that may be applied to crops. Wasps, spiders, ladybirds and some fly larvae are all good at keeping the pests to a minimum.

Dr Roskruge is also chair of Tahuri Whenua, the national Maori vegetable growers collective, which has almost 300 members. He says the collectives knowledge was pivotal in adding Maori terminology to the book.

It was important that the terminology was correct and appropriate. The input from the kaumatua group within the collective was great in providing this, we used it as a sounding board for the language component.

The book also features a Maori calendar for fishing and horticulture, which outlines the best days for fishing and planting, according to custom.

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