Restoration of the New Zealand Taro - Case Study

Ethnobotany 2
Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 13:45
, Mesulame - Massey University

The New Zealand Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is an edible plant grown in sub-tropical regions and belongs to the Artaceae family of plants. Having a special connection to the indigenous Maori people because of cultural tikanga, there is a great concern of restoring this variety of taro from being completely lost. To the Maori people, this crop was once only allowed to be planted on the moon phases known as Rākaunui, Rākaunui-matohi and Ōrongonui to ensure successful crops. In comparison to other different cultivars of Pacific Island taro, the New Zealand taro thrived in the cooler temperate climatic and for this reason, was only grown for the chiefs of the tribes stating its value traditionally within the society as a chiefly crop. To this date, knowledge on this crop has been slowly lost and a fear of losing out the traditional variety is high. Few Maori now grow taro except for a few regions in the country where traditional production systems survive. As part of restoration, a collection of the cultivar has been established alongside retention of traditional knowledge of the crop.