The New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Level 3 is coming to Te Kuiti, with a bonus win for whanau and local foodbanks – it will be taught at Maniapoto Maara Kai.

Land Based Training’s regional operations manager Linda Weterman said the concept of training in Waitomo is a student-driven initiative. Eight apiculture students who are graduating now wanted to go on and do horticulture training in their hometown “because they were keen to do it at Te Kuiti’s Maara Kai, to build Maniapoto’s food source and enrich the community” Linda said.

“It’s a fabulous initiative – students each have nine hours of practical to give to the maara kai every week to help it not just produce but flourish, to make it bigger and stronger, and the big advantage for the students is the group learning.”

Land Based Training already works with maara kai in New Plymouth and Taumarunui and teach at both.

“Taumarunui started as a paddock in Manunui, and similarly in New Plymouth. Now both harvest for their foodbanks.”

The training organisation is confident there’ll be enough students to make the fees-free course viable – 12-14 is the perfect size of the class, so additional indoor space they’ll need for theoretical training and assessment shouldn’t be hard to find. For many, the course will be fees-free, but others may have to pay a partial fee for the 2023 portion of their course.

Students will learn irrigation systems, soils, pruning, growing systems, plant health, controlling weeds, harvesting and plant science. Maara kai, with its focus on organic management of pests and sustainability of soil and food sources is a good match.

Some students will also do riparian planting in the rohe, she said.

“We recently graduated a group in Piopio at the native nursery there.”

Land Based Training is now looking to hire a tutor for the course and they’d prefer to employ locally. Once the tutor is appointed, the course will begin with the new semester next month.

– Vonny Fowler, King Country News


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