Secrets in the Soil

Kumara would have to be one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets.

Packed with nutrients and key Vitamins and rich in Antioxidants, kumara is currently the 7th most popular vegetable in terms of household spend in New Zealand.

A kumara is not in fact an indigenous vegetable to New Zealand but was bought here by the early Maori when they migrated to New Zealand.  The varieties they bought were much smaller than the commercial varieties available today, but they were able to survive the long sea voyage and be planted in the alluvial sands of the Northern New Zealand to produce crops.  These quickly became a staple food in early Maori diets.

The early Maori people planted kumara in the semi-tropical regions of New Zealand with the alluvial plains most suited to propagation of the crop.  Their long growing season and the ability for the tubers to last up to a year when harvested and stored correctly made them an ideal staple diet.  Once harvested, the tubers were stored carefully in earth pits known as “rua kumara”.  These pits enabled the kumara to be stored for long periods and provided an almost continuous food source for the early Maori people.

 



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