Te Puna O Wai Ora Pastor Marama Dey realised a long-held passion this week when she completed her healthy eating and growing healthy food book after two years in the writing.

This week the book will be launched and she says it is a book for everyone even though it is written from a Maori perspective.

At 76 years old Ms Dey believes she's a good advertisement for eating good, fresh food, especially vegetables, and eating very little meat.

"I'm still working full time. My day starts at 8am, I cook my kai every night and am in bed at 10pm. My energy levels are still very good and I know it's all about eating well. Being aware of what you're putting in your stomach is so important,"she said.

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Titled Ka Pai E Kai the book details the benefits of organic gardening, companion planting and pest control, the vitamin content of vegetables, looking at old Maori kai and how to cook with easy recipes.

Growing up through World War II on the Putiki Marae the diet was all about fresh veges and fruit and fish from the Whanganui River, she said.

"Well that's before the council allowed the river to be polluted. Our food was fresh and simple and I was never sick as a kid, Diabetes, obesity, asthma just wasn't a part of our life, we were always very healthy.''

But over the past 30 years the diet of too many people and their children has become dangerous and very unhealthy, she says.

"All the revolting processed foods parents buy it's no wonder their kids are sick so much.''

At the Wai Ora Christian Trust their special horticultural training course enables students to gain credits for NZQA, as well as giving students valuable life experience, she says.

"Education is so important, I tell families and young people this all the time.

"I have been working with both Black Power and Mongrel Mob families for about 10 years now and the changes are amazing. I can tell you that crime is not so much their main focus any longer."

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The Maori kai recipes in her book include pukeko soup, pukeko and bacon patties, roast mutton bird (titi), mussel pie, kina pie and baked eel.

Ms Dey did all the photographic illustrations as well as the text.

The book will be officially launched this Saturday, July 29, at 3pm, with a sponsored afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel.

Pukeko Soup
Ingredients
1 pukeko; 1 carrot; 1 onion; 1 stick celery; 1 bay leaf; 1 sprig thyme; 1 sprig parsley; 6 peppercorns; 2 cloves; 1 teaspoon salt cold water.
Method
•Add all ingredients to a saucepan and cover with cold water.
•Bring slowly to the boil and gently simmer for three hours.
•Remove the breast from the pukeko and chop it finely across the grain.
•Add to pot, simmer for half an hour.
•Serve hot.
The key is lots of slow cooking to tenderise the meat.
This is a healthy dish as it contains vegetables and herbs.