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  • Research and development for growing taewa is led by Dr Nick Roskruge at Massey University with input from the Tāhuri Whenua – the National Māori Vegetable Growers’ Collective.

    Research to improve taewa crops

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Weighing taewa

    Dr Nick Roskruge weighing taewa.

    The science and technology involved in producing, managing and manipulating plant crops to get the best out of them is known as agronomy. Dr Nick Roskruge leads the agronomic research into taewa at Massey University. His work includes aspects such as plant yield, breeding and genetics, soil fertility, and weed and pest control.

    Dr Roskruge had an interest in horticulture from an early age and worked in the industry for many years before becoming an agronomist. Together with his Māori heritage, this has prepared him well for his role with this project.

    Tāhuri Whenua benefits from taewa research

    Tāhuri Whenua – the National Māori Vegetable Growers’ Collective – was established by Dr Roskruge as a result of the taewa research at Massey University. The organisation represents Māori interests in horticulture and facilitates their involvement in the research and development.

    Becoming an agronomist

    Dr Nick Roskruge from Massey University talks about his career and how he became an agronomist

    They organise regular hui so growers throughout the country can work together and share knowledge. They also aim to encourage and train young Māori so future generations can continue to contribute to and benefit from the development of their indigenous horticultural resources and the on-going opportunities that are created.

    Tāhuri Whenua bringing Māori growers together

    Tāhuri Whenua is the Māori vegetable growers’ collective. Here, Dr Nick Roskruge from Massey University explains how the organisation is helping Māori horticulture in New Zealand.

    Select here to view video transcript and copyright information.

    Taewa are grown like modern potatoes

    Taewa grow from small tubers known as seed potatoes, just like modern varieties of potato. Seed potatoes are disease-free, and they’re selected to give you the best results with the highest yields. A couple of weeks before planting, you place them in a warm, dark place until sprouts grow from the ‘eyes’. Once they’ve sprouted, you can plant them in your garden. Taewa grow from spring through to autumn. Some varieties grow early in the season and some later.

    The key difference between taewa and modern potatoes is the lower volumes they produce.

    Breeding taewa for sustainability

    Traditional taewa are not sustainable as a commercial crop because they only produce a few tubers per plant. Researchers think this is because, for many years, people have saved tubers from home gardens and the tubers have accumulated diseases spread by viruses.
    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Taewa crops

    Taewa crops growing at Massey University.

    At Massey University, they are addressing this by breeding taewa for higher yield and developing a system of long-term management of future seed production. They plan to grow enough taewa to be commercially sustainable.

    The importance of taewa research

    Commercial interest in taewa has grown as a result of the research at Massey University. As researchers develop the potential to grow more, they are also looking for ways to get the best value out of what they produce.

    The importance of taewa research

    Dr Nick Roskruge from Massey University explains how taewa became a focus for research.

    Alongside the agronomic research at Massey, the Riddet Institute is researching the chemical and physical properties of taewa and developing new food products to enhance their economic value. Massey provides the cultivars for the Riddet research.

    Find out more about taewa in these articles The benefits of taewa and Developing novel foods from taewa.

    Useful link

    Visit the Tāhuri Whenua website for up-to-date information on the Collective's projects.

      Published 15 June 2009 Referencing Hub articles
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