top of page

Harvest season: Bringing us back into right relationship with te Taiao  

In today's fast-paced world, the convenience of ordering food through Uber Eats from a wide range of takeaway options while staying indoors can often seem more appealing than the idea of getting hands dirty in the soil to harvest kumara or prepare fresh pumpkin soup or cucumber salad straight from the maara. 

On the crisp Saturday morning of April 6, 70+ community members and whānau gathered together at the Learning Environment (LE) in Papaiti, Whanganui to harvest apples, kūmara, pumpkin, potatoes and butternut. In addition to this, whānau participated in wānanga learning how to make different types of tea, and shared lunch together. The kai came fresh from the garden, and the venison from the hills, which became a special lunch treat for everyone to share and eat with one another under the trees. Later on in the afternoon whānau were able to participate in physical activity,  creative arts, receive mirimiri, as well as learn different ways of kai preservation.  The Whanganui Kai Hub were also present to take away any excess vegetables and fruit for distribution to the community pātaka around Whanganui as well as give away surplus kai from the week to those that attended the event. 

Many whānau expressed their desire to see more similar events happening as it helped many whānau from different backgrounds, generations and levels of gardening experiences, come together and meet new people as well as strengthen existing relationships. Our Healthy Families Whanganui, Rangitīkei, Ruapehu Systems Innovator Sol Walsh in collaboration with Ness Radich from the Learning Environment co-designed this kaupapa dedicated to connecting the wider community together within and towards nature, inspiring those with limited exposure, experience and knowledge of growing kai to explore the possibilities of growing kai at home,  growing kai with whānau and broadening their holistic approach to wellbeing. The question arises: Does it truly matter where and how our food reaches our table?

There is a growing concern that society is becoming increasingly disconnected, isolated, and estranged, not only from meaningful connections to their food sources and the environment but people are now choosing convenience over healthier options and the responsibility to preserve intergenerational knowledge. 

This event titled “Harvest and Celebration” was about acknowledging the abundance offered by the main harvest season, promoting holistic hauora and highlighting the many pathways to wellness. Whānau expressed that they “really enjoyed the fresh air” and that they don't have that experience living in town. Whānau also attended the event with their children and many families expressed how much of a great opportunity it was for them to harvest kai alongside their children and how they hope that their children would pass down the knowledge that they have gained from the day. Whānau felt safe, nurtured, and enjoyed taking part in all the tranquil surroundings and expressed that they ”Loved it all! Awesome vibes all 'round. I super enjoyed having my whānau come and be a part of the celebrations, especially our baby who just lapped it all up!” The weather also put on a show enhancing the experience for many who attended. 

The price of vegetables and fruit is climbing and whānau are just not buying healthy options anymore let alone growing it, “Last week I didn't get any vegetables because it was too expensive, but I am leaving now with a bag full of apples, kumara, potatoes, just abundance and blessings.” However, some also shared feelings of guilt and shame for not knowing how to make pumpkin soup, with one individual saying, "The pumpkin soup was amazing, but I’m so embarrassed I get my pumpkin soup from a can." This shows the desire for whānau to learn, but also the barriers that are in place. Finally,  as whānau reflected on their childhood experiences of being raised around gardening they expressed a desire to re-engage with nature moving forward.

The “Harvest & Hauora Celebration” was a testament to the power of community collaboration and connection. As we reflect on this event, we are inspired to continue our journey towards holistic hauora, wellness, and abundance for all.


bottom of page