New growth for South Kaipara Good Food as seedling greenhouse opens

New growth for South Kaipara Good Food as seedling greenhouse opens


Seedlings for kai to feed the community are being raised at an exciting new South Kaipara Good Food (SKGF) greenhouse development.


Mihirau Greenhouse Development is a 700m2 greenhouse on the outskirts of Helensville, a space donated by generous local landowners, who loved the idea of giving back to their local community and strongly believed in the kaupapa of SKGF.

The name Mihirau was gifted to SKGF by the landowners, who explained, “In the olden days when there were no roads, our tipuna used to go down a river (in the Hokianga) in their waka to connect with other communities along the river.


“Over time, they would have greeted and connected with hundreds of people – and hence, the river became locally known as Mihirau. It alludes to that connection and that for you, the growing of seedlings, kai for the community and that the korero over kai from this fosters a hundred greetings for those who eat at the communal table.”   


As a prelude to operations beginning at the greenhouse, a blessing ceremony was held on site attended by local MP Chris Penk, Glenn Wilcox, Chair of Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua and Whaea Te Kahu-iti Morehu from Ngati Whatua, Regional MSD Commissioner for Social Development Dan Brunt, staff from Kindred Family Services and Te Ha Oranga, as well as staff from South Kaipara Good Food.


In officiating at the blessing ceremony, Glenn Wilcox and Whaea Te Kahu-iti Morehu called those in attendance into the greenhouse with a karanga followed by karakia before blessing the site and the new soil.  Seedlings were planted by those in attendance and the blessing finished with hongi and the sharing of kai.


…ko te kaingaki ma te huhu, ma te popo, ma te hanehane!

The gardeners life is long and fulfilling.


Mihirau is being used to raise seedlings for community and urban gardens and food that will be given to the community in our kai packs,” said South Kaipara Good Food CE Gemma Donaldson.


“In the coming months, we’ll also be making seedlings available for anyone who wants to grow their own kai in their backyard, and we’ll help guide them through this if they are new gardeners.”


The start-up process has been funded by the Ministry of Social Development and work in Mihirau is being led by new SKGF employee and Project Lead, Andrea Sugar.


“This is amazingly exciting because of where I have come from,” Sugar said, explaining she has been a client of both MSD and South Kaipara Good Food. “After Covid, my kids didn’t cope very well and I needed to be close to home, so thanks goodness for MSD being able to support me in the last few years during that time.”


“I am grateful to have a role I am passionate about.  When the opportunity arose to be a part of the SKGF team, under the MSD Flexi-wage scheme, I jumped at the chance to use my skills and learn more about working with our community”.


“I really like the idea and concept behind trying to encourage people to grow their own food. And people who know me know all I talk about is plants.”


Having a background in ecology means Andrea not only takes holistic approach to the growing of kai, but also the environment it is grown in.  Utilising each environment to create the most beneficial habitat for growing in, has been a rewarding task in the last two months of her role. 


“Adding natural elements to the existing plants already on-site, has meant that the ecology within the greenhouse is being supported, nurtured and encouraged.”


Sugar, who has been busy seeding beetroot and lettuce at the site, thinks there is a generation who may have lost the education around growing food, as vegetables had been cheap in New Zealand before the cost-of-living crisis. “This project helps because part of that cost is going to be absorbed by us, and that makes it so much easier.”


Regional MSD Commissioner Dan Brunt said: “South Kaipara Good Food play a critical role in supporting their community. I had the pleasure of attending the blessing of the new Mihirau initiative which highlights their focus on sustainable outcomes into the future while also supporting people with daily needs such as food and connection. They have an amazing ability to pivot to meet immediate need and their commendable response during COVID and the North Island Weather Events is a testament to this. Their deep connections in to their community ensure that they provide the right support at the right time to where it is needed.


South Kaipara Good Food’s Gemma Donaldson said Mihirau has been two years in the making and it is exciting to have it off the ground.


“We are very grateful to the generous landowner who has given us this space. We could not do this mahi without the amazing support of our community and this is another incredible example of how working together can make a difference to achieve a collective approach to food security in our community,” she said.

If you have any excess packets of seeds, please reach out to Andrea:

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