Island Bay Kindergarten is working with Garden to Table - a charitable trust that helps empower tamariki to whanake (grow), hauhake (harvest), whakarite (prepare), and whāngai (share) fresh, seasonal, and affordable kai.

The Garden to Table project has brought the Island Bay Kindergarten community together, and strengthened the culture of manaakitanga, caring for each other.

Almost three years ago the kindergarten joined Garden to Table after hearing from whānau (families) about the programme at their local school  St Francis De Sales, along with an inspiring visit from their ākonga (students).  Kindergarten whānau built two raised vegetable beds from donated wood. The following year Bunnings Lyall Bay built another two – donating the wood, compost, spades and a wheelbarrow.

The māra kai (vegetable garden) is in a separate fenced off part of kindergarten, which helps protect the huawhenua (vegetables) as they grow and makes the garden a special place to visit.

The tamariki (children) make their own decisions about what they want to grow, cook and eat and supports this by bringing in seeds and seedlings from home to plant.  Crops grown include kūmara, carrots, courgettes, silver beet, spinach, chives, parsley, mint, spring onions, strawberries, tomatoes, kawakawa and lemon, lime and mandarin trees. There has been a particular focus on connecting with the local histories and stories of the rohe (area), with the kūmara crop reflecting the traditional Māori kūmara gardens.

The kindergarten also grows Isle of Capri heirloom tomatoes, which were originally brought from Italy by the  early settlers of Island Bay.

Kawakawa bushes are a special taonga (treasure) in the māra with the name Island Bay first known as Paekawakawa, which means place/ area where the kawakawa trees grow. Known as “love heart leaves”, tamariki learn about the rongoā (medicine) of kawakawa and it is regularly used in lemon and honey drinks during winter and in baking kawakawa pihikete (biscuits).

Everything grown is shared with whānau, and while most of it goes home, cooking also takes place at kindergarten, with passata (fresh tomato sauce) being a recent cooking experience. Whānau share photos and stories about what they cook and bake at home with the produce grown at kindergarten, with many noticing increased tamariki interest in talking about where kai (food) comes from and in trying new fruit and vegetables.

Liam (pictured) was inspired to start his own māra at home with the seeds and seedlings gifted from kindergarten.  Nicole, Liam’s māmā shared, “He was so excited when the sunflower grew taller than him, and he got so much enjoyment from seeing it finally bloom.”

Garden to Table community co-ordinator Olivia Boyd has provided ongoing tautoko (support) throughout the kindergarten's journey and facilitates community networking opportunities, bringing local kaiako together, like learning  grow kūmara and bake rewena bread.   


Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourouka ora ai te iwi  

With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive


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