Land – and the people's connection to it – has long been central to the identity and culture of Maori.
In Maori mythology it is from Papatuanuku, the earth mother, that all living things are born and sustained.
So it's fitting that an upcoming wananga (conference) discussing organic and sustainable planting will be hosted at Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae in Mangere this weekend.
It will be run by Te Waka Kai Ora – National Maori Organics Authority of Aotearoa, which promotes and advocates for environmental and cultural sustainability.
Marae trustee Hineamaru Ropati says the focus will be on the value of organic food production using traditional Maori values and ethics.
"It is very exciting to have Te Waka Kai Ora at our marae.
"We hope the hui will lead people to make radical changes in their lives," she says.
"We will have the executive team plus international guests speaking so we are also feeling very lucky that the gurus are attending this hui."
Ms Ropati says they will also be using the wananga to encourage healthier eating among locals.
In Mangere there are too many "easy options" for food.
One change the marae would like to see would be people choosing to grow and cook their own, Ms Ropati says.
"You don't have to have a big garden to be able to plant food that you and your whanau can cook," she says.
"And by utilising what's already in Papatuanuku it does not cost a thing – that's a big plus."
Along with the wananga the marae also plans to celebrate Matariki, the Maori New Year, with a special native tree planting ceremony involving manuhiri (guests), Ms Ropati says.
"The ceremony will be carried out by our manuhiri and each tree will represent the different marae they have come from.
"It gives people a spiritual and physical link to Papatuanuku marae and manuhiri are welcome to plant trees – they will just need to contact us to register."
Ms Ropati encourages all locals with an interest in organic, sustainable and ethical planting on a local and global scale to attend this weekend's wananga.
"What we take out of Papatuanuku we need to put back into her in a really nurturing way," Ms Ropati says.
Te Waka Kai Ora hui starts at Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae, 141 Robertson Rd, at noon on Saturday. To confirm your attendance or for more information call 256-1472 or 027-497-4980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Manukau Courier
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