Kua tino whakawhanaunga māua nei ko kareao i tēnei marama. We’ve been spending some time in whanaungatanga this month with kareao. Kei te whetero mai ngā rau! The kareao leaves are starting to protrude along the vines, and soon we might even be seeing the red berries. Here we share with you some of our observations, learnings, and ways to get to know kareao inside and out!

Kareao and Play

Whenever we find ourselves walking off track through the ngāhere, the first whanaunga we often encounter in our path is Kareao. Weaving through, ducking under and stepping over Kareao quickly becomes a fun and challenging game! If you’re by yourself you can weave yourself through the tangle of kareao with an intention to keep good body posture, and position as you squat, duck walk and move from side to side. If you’re with a friend or whanau member, you can set a timer and see who can move through the vines the farthest without touching it. It’s pretty tricky!

A fun mind moving game could be using a ring, and starting at the tipu trying to trace and weave the ring along the kareao vine, until you reach the root! You could play with two or more people, each of you picking a starting tipu. Don’t forget to take the ring with you after. (Tip: the young ones are shorter and less windy).

We know that our mete, Wiremu Sarich, uses kareao to create many of his taonga tākaro. If you have a healthy source of kareao in a ngahere nearby, harvest some of the vines and have a go at experimenting and shaping them into cool taonga tākaro. There are no rules, just let your curiosity and imagination guide the way.

Kareao and Kai

We’ve been foraging tipu kareao recently, the tips of the kareao, which are sometimes referred to as native asparagus. They certainly look like whanaunga! You have to be onto it when foraging for tipu kareao. Trying to find the tips themselves can be tricky amongst the visual tangle, and then you have to compete with Tane’s other mokopuna who like to feast on them. Once you’ve foraged a handful you can wash them with cold water and prepare them just how you would prepare asparagus. 

We used our tipu kareao to substitute the okra in a Jambalaya, a dish influenced by French, Spanish, and African food traditions in Louisiana. Some other simple ways to prepare kareao are to cut them in half and toss them in olive oil, lemon rind, minced garlic and salt and pepper. Spread the kareao and a chopped leek, into the bottom of a dish and then lay a piece of seasoned white fish over top. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 180 degrees. Eat with a side of potatoes or kumara. 

Kareao tipu
Haylee Koroi forages for pikopiko
Haylee Koroi

He mokopuna tēnei nō Tarutaru, nō Te Ruapounamu, nō Tauratumaru. Ka hora tōna whenua taurikura ki Pukepoto, ki Utakura anō hoki. Ko te Tai Tokerau tēnei e ngunguru nei.

Haylee is the Kaiārahi Training and Nutrition Lead for Toi Tangata.