Aaron Williams is excited to teach on the Mahinga Kai course in Taradale

Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) Taradale students will soon have the chance to learn how to grow and harvest food in a traditionally Māori way.

From March 8, EIT will offer a free Certificate in Māori Traditional Food Production, Harvest and Management.

The 20-week programme, often referred to as Mahinga kai, has been run successfully at multiple locations across Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti, will be delivered for the first time at EIT’s campus in Taradale.

EIT tutors Aaron Williams and Chad Tareha (Ngāti Pārau) say the course will have a strong focus on sharing knowledge, skills, and ideas.

“It’s empowering to know where your food comes from and it gives you a sense of belonging,” says Williams.

“Needless to say that it saves you money. Financial freedom is an important step towards mental health. I also believe in learning traditional practices from our ancestors to feed us into the future.”

The Māori lunar calendar, maramataka, will guide the students and they will explore the three sources of food, moana (ocean), maara (land), and ngahere (forest/bush).

Students will collect seeds to grow their own native plants and trees, and look into traditional ways of preserving, fermenting, and pickling. The course also includes a few field trips and a kai event where the learners will prepare and serve the kai they have produced to whānau.