Dr Nick Roskruge began working with taewa to improve their quality and yield. As the outcomes of his early research became known in the wider community, ideas emerged for creating value-added products.
Dr Nick Roskruge (Massey University)
My project was really initiated simply because I had come off of working with crops, potatoes and corn and those old crops before I came here to work at Massey, and we initiated a seed bank to a) take advantage of that because that was my background, and b) to balance the indoor and outdoor time, because I had come off the farms, and being in an office 8 hours a day is just too much. So we started the project and that started the momentum I guess, and the interest from the Māori community sky-rocketed, and then the opportunity to do short funding for different projects became apparent, so we took advantage of those with theelimination and that sort of thing. And then other people have come to us and said can we include these [taewa] in our projects and those sorts of things. So it has grown in that context, and I think even the term ‘taewa’, which is the name that we give them on the West Coast where I come from, from Taranaki, is not a universal name for them. If you go to the East Coast, it’s parareka, if you go to Northland its peruperu, so even the projects have put that word out, and it’s become commonplace as the term used for the Māori potatoes. So it’s all a combination of all of that, and I guess the wheels of information now, you can get the publicity and all of that out there, and people have picked up on it. I think also people are looking for that experience of some of the vegetables that they used to have, you know, and not just with the taewa, but with some of the other vegetables and fruits.