September in the Maara

Kia ora koutou, one of the things I have been considering in level two lockdown is the ability of our community to re-emerge safely, reconnect and rebuild our sense of community connection.

I have been contemplating ways we can get together in the Māoriland Māra at level two, and have some safe social contact and fun! I have come up with a Level Two ActivityWILLOW WEAVING! …for those with creative energy and physically able to navigate their way through long grass and some obstructions (such as piles of rocks and soil pulled out from under the Hub by our building team). We need to weave the growing willow fenceline. This is actually a favourite māra activity of Tania and mine! I put in the willow last year as a more attractive option than the somewhat dilapidated corrugated iron at the south end of the paddock. To our joy, we found the weaving and shaping of this growing and evolving ‘fenceline’ is rather good fun.

The willow is right now coming alive again in spring after losing its leaves and being at a standstill over winter. The new branches are soft and supple, perfect for plaiting! This is an outdoor activity and a fairly long fenceline so anyone who is keen to distance socialise and create in an outdoor space is welcome to join us on a ‘Free Range Friday’ end of the week māra gathering time which we are trying to see if this time slot works for people. We will be willow weaving for the next couple of Friday afternoons from 1.00 pm onwards, do come and join us in the paddock if you feel so inclined!

Beyond level two, we propose to develop our Free Range Fridays, doing some cooking with anyone interested, sharing kai from our community cookery efforts and from Kaibosh Food Rescue who support our community-building kaupapa.  We will be using the Kapiti Fruit & Vege co-op produce that is coming in on a Thursday afternoon, and hope to help people who are not confident in the kitchen learn to create their own delicious kai from fresh produce. If you are interested in the vege co-op check it out by searching on Facebook for Kapiti Fruit and Vege Co-op, as it’s a great way to feed your whanau affordable fresh food, at $15 per week.

In our Māra we are harvesting savoy cabbages, more ordinary (slightly slug bothered) cabbages, carrots, spinach, silverbeet, salad greens, beetroot, rocket: Putiputi kai! Rocket is bursting forth. Did you know that rocket flowers are excellent and decorative salad morsels?! Nutty and delicious…when rocket produces putiputi…pick those flowers, scatter them over your salads and enjoy! These can be foraged around Ōtaki, just make sure you know what you have, and are welcome to it (I hear there’s some at the Māoriland Māra!)

(Right) is decent compost from our community composting project, I am yet to build my fabulous compost sieve (wire netting over a table frame), but nonetheless it’s pretty good! As I was digging it into the garden beds I was noticing the remains of bamboo boats, which made me think of our lovely kuia Maud who swans in at MFF festival time with the most exquisite kai treats artfully arranged to look as good as they taste. I found mussel and pipi anga and thought of the Hākari (feast) held at the end of our recent Matariki festival. This got my mind wandering to the days I lived in Belize, Central America, and worked alongside a group of Archeologists who worked with great interest in detail and laboured for hours uncovering sites and spoke of what a rich source of knowledge a midden, an ancient rubbish site is, how much a societies rubbish tells of their culture. This is true. Really an interesting truth to explore ourselves as we live our lives, make our choices, leave our footprint. Reduce. Choose carefully.