Strategic initiatives

  • Agapanthus: a gardener’s favourite but also a weed.

    Agapanthus: a gardener’s favourite but also a weed.

Network analysis to strengthen New Zealand's biosecurity system: the Māori Vegetable Growers' Collective

The aim of the Biosecurity networks project team is to compare at least four different networks of human-assisted spread of unwanted organisms in order to learn from these comparisons and shut down future pathways. Each network provides different information about the spread of unwanted organisms and integrating across networks is novel compared to previous approaches.

An exciting development for the team in 2017 was to form a collaborative partnership with Tāhuri Whenua, the Māori Vegetable Growers Collective, with the eventual aim of adding a fifth network to the project. The team will draw on the cultural expertise and existing networks aligned to the Tāhuri Whenua collective to present a clear picture of the Māori relationship to plants and plant distribution.

Under the guidance of Dr Nick Roskruge (Massey University), a series of interviews and case studies is being undertaken in order to understand the geographical reach of Māori horticultural networks. This is achieved primarily through hui with Māori horticulturists. The collective appointed Rodrigo Estrada, a recent graduate in Pacific horticulture, to work with a committee and kaumātua rōpū to facilitate information gathering. The team compiled relevant mātauranga associated with some of the most important Māori crops, focusing on taewa (Māori potatoes) and kūmara.

Regional workshops and discussions identified several challenges faced by Māori in the commercial production and distribution of their crops. The geographical localisation of key Māori growers enables the project to better understand horticultural flows, regionally and nationally. Mātauranga associated with the crops and the challenges identified will be important factors that define future approaches to the management of biosecurity threats of relevance to Māori horticulture.

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