Pataka kai unveiled at Russell School vege garden

By Peter de Graaf

Russell School's vegetable growing project has received a boost with the unveiling of a pataka kai (traditional food storage unit) carved by a parent.

The pataka kai was made from totara by Sam Uea with funding from Te Puni Kokiri, and is decorated with carvings of tuna (eels) and ika (fish) inlaid with paua.

It was unveiled on May 22 in a ceremony attended by the schoolchildren, parents and members of the community garden group.

Principal William Fuller said the pataka kai was both ornamental and useful, and would be used to store crops such as kumara for the following season.

Every Tuesday parents Shaelagh Jones and Mandy Cleland worked with groups of 10 children at a time to plant, weed, water and fertilise the garden. Children took home the fruit and vegetables to share with their families.

Mr Fuller said the aim was to show the children how easy and enjoyable it was to grow their own food. The programme was also delivering some unexpected benefits for parents who sometimes struggle to make children eat their vegetables.

"We've noticed how they really like eating the food, especially raw broccoli," he said.

The school garden is now into its fourth year and has been funded two years in a row by Te Puni Kokiri. The garden's worm farm also produces "worm wee" fertiliser which is sold to raise extra funds.

- Northern Advocate

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