Māori have grown potatoes for at least 200 years, and ‘taewa’ refers collectively to a number of traditional varieties. Nick Roskruge (kaitautoko at the Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University), shown at right, has been collecting taewa since 1997. He now has over 30 different types, and aims to build a seed bank to protect them, while researching their potential as a commercial crop.
Potatoes originated in the Americas, and were taken to Europe in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Captain James Cook brought the first potatoes to New Zealand on his three visits between 1769 and 1777, and Māori adopted them enthusiastically as a food source.
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