Peaches Peaches

Our Kaiārahi Kai Māori, Haylee Koroi, shares her thoughts about restoring the mana, tapu and mauri of kai and the beauty of community. 

It’s stone fruit season here in Te Tai Tokerau and we’ve managed to salvage what is left from our peach tree in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle. It has been a beautiful full circle moment for us as the fruiting peaches signal a full year since we arrived here in the Hokianga. Last season we were not quite prepared with the tools, or the know how to do much – and the peaches fell anyway. We ate the good ones, prepared some peach syrup and made a batch of muffins that we shared with our neighbours. 

This year we have all the equipment we need and have been waiting in the wings. We made a few big bottles of peach syrup which we shared with friends, several rounds of muffins that we shared with whānau, bottled around 12 jars and have a few snaplock bags of peach pulp in the freezer for smoothies and other things. It’s a testament to how far we have come in a year, learning to live not only on whenua tupuna with the many obligations that that entails, but in the legacies that were left for us. 

This peach tree was planted by my partner, Hana’s tūpuna, so generations of her whānau have been eating peaches from this tree, nurturing the soil around it along with those who tend to it. A mutually beneficial partnership. The tree has been here longer than Hana’s lifetime, and we are doing what we can to honour the fruit and the intentions of those before us.

We have been learning so much about community and whānau since moving here to the Hokianga. I guess being on Hana’s whenua tūpuna kind of necessitates that. When you’re related to half of the community – and see them everyday – you get a sense that you are part of something, despite all the ways that that “something” has been diminished, redefined, and pulled apart. 

Sharing kai with our neighbours has been such a special way of stepping into a future we envision, one in which the mana, tapu, and mauri of kai is restored,  and with it, the mana of our communities. Where food is not a commodity but a right for all people, and where gathering in community around kai is an easy, joyful, and frequent practice. We know that these aren’t futures that will manifest themselves, these are futures we have to (dare to) imagine, and to create ourselves. 

With the recent impacts of cyclone Gabrielle on communities throughout Aotearoa, it is more apparent than ever that our relationships in community will be vitally important in the years to come. All the savings in the world will not help us when the power is out and eftpos machines aren’t working. At that moment, we must be each other’s source of reassurance, of strength. There is a lot to work through, but starting with the offering of kai, is a beautiful opening. 

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.