March in the Maara
Kua hauhake te kai.
The crops are now harvested.
Poutū-te-rangi – the 10th lunar month of the Māori year or the maramataka. March in the Māoriland Maara, was all about preparation for the annual Māoriland Film Festival. It was almost as if every plant was saying ‘hey…it’s getting cooler…days are getting shorter, time to retire and rest’. And we were saying ‘MFF is upon us… TIME TO BE GORGEOUS!’
I am ever grateful for the March flowering of the Jerusalem artichokes. Tania tells me we will regret them, but I am not convinced. They are taller than trees this year and warm as sunlight, reaching for Ranginui. The woven willow fence has covered the dilapidated corrugated iron one, marigolds keep on giving, we have two big full new vegetable beds (hope the forest of basil grows fast before a frost), masses of tomatoes have been plucked and consumed, and crunchy salad greens and reds and raspberries are ever-present nibbles, there are ever so blue delphiniums, redder than red geraniums. All these gave me an enormous boost of happiness.
In the new vege beds, we planted chard, silverbeet, spinach, brassicas, cos lettuce, kale and carrots …and our coriander, carrots, and beans from last month are powering on. We have been feeding!
Over the five days of the MFF2021 crowds gathered in the maara and were amazed at how bountiful the beds looked. We worked hard on para kore (waste minimisation) and diverted a huge volume of waste to compost and recycling or re-use ending up with only one binful that couldn’t be recycled or repurposed.
My favourite thing about the maara is its place as an expression of our Māoriland kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga. It’s a joy to me to work with Papatuanuku to create kai to give and beauty to enjoy and, I hope, a place of well-being. I feel as if I am just starting to get to know our maara. We are using organic principles and establishing a rich varied habitat across our established beds where bees and butterflies forage and humans find wonder discovering there are layers of planting or self-sown goodies that you could miss if you don’t take a moment.
Taking a moment is really what the Maara is all about. On the closing night of the MFF2021 the hot dancing crowd celebrated the joys of Troy Kingi and then piled out to the maara between sets and were amazed and invigorated by its beauty. I had the feeling that we had achieved success.
My grateful thanks to Jess who worked so hard to make the maara the most beautiful place that it is.