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Tenderly growing vegies in Penrhyn

Monday 18 October 2021 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in National, Outer Islands

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Tenderly growing vegies in Penrhyn
Package of homegrown vegetables from the island of Penrhyn. PC: ANNA RAURU. 21101413.

The principal of Manihiki’s Tukao and Tauhunu schools Anna Rauru was ecstatic to receive a delivery of “fresh and delicious” home grown vegetables from the island of Penrhyn.

Rouru received the surprise package of “healthy and yummy” tomatoes, capsicum and cucumbers last week.

“It was such a treat to have fresh tomatoes on toast, and it’s so good to have nice fresh vegetables, especially for us here in the North.”

The vegetables were grown on Penrhyn or Tongareva island, the northernmost island of the Cooks, by the principal of Tetautua and Omoka schools Apii Napa on her homegrown patch referred to as ‘Tarakore Farm’.

Initially, Tarakore Farm started the vegetable project just to have a go at growing vegies up north.

“Well the results speak for itself, so it is possible to grow vegies here, but with a lot of thought and planning,” said Napa.

“It has taken three months of hard work to take care of the plants, we started harvesting in April and continue to do so today.”

The seedlings were grown on site with the help of “black magic soil” from Rarotonga.

The soil used in the garden is basically “atoll soil” – a mixture of sand that was carted from family land from the ocean side of the island and rubbish that is collected is used to compost their bananas.

Water catchment systems were also constructed to help keep the plants nourished.

“There’s no manure, just untouched soil, a lot of tender care and plenty of water,” said Napa.

A fence was also built to protect the home garden from chickens, roaming pigs and “not forgetting the tupa (crabs)” out of the garden, said Napa.

With the current vegetable production slowing down, Tarakore Farm is preparing to begin the process for a new planting season by “turning” some new soil, “so we can once again eat fresh vegies for the festive season”.


The Tarakore Farm of vegetables on the island of Penrhyn. SUPPLIED. 21101412.