Tahi growing connections and vegetables in his community
20 December 2019
Tahi Ratapu loves his gardening and that passion is evident not only in his backyard but at a local school too.
He calls himself a “volunteer gardener’’ but Tahi is much more than that.
For the last few years, he has helped establish an impressive vegetable garden at Northcote School, just down the road from his Kāinga Ora home.
His dedication and enthusiasm for showing young people the benefits of growing your own vegetables is obvious.
Tahi’s connection with Northcote School started when his eldest grand-daughter attended there and came home one day with a school notice about plans for a school garden.
Before he knew it, Tahi was showing pupils how to grow great gardens, the care and attention that is needed and the delicious results.
Tahi says seeing the smiles on the faces of pupils as they work on the garden makes all the work worthwhile.
“It makes me feel damm good.’’
The garden consists of six raised beds plus other garden space where a variety of vegetables grow throughout the year. Bok choi, cabbage, cauliflowers, lettuces, silver beet, beetroot and a great crop of strawberries are in full bloom while other smaller plants are being carefully grown to ensure the crop produces throughout the summer and beyond.
Northcote School Principal Justin Perriam said Tahi has been involved with the school garden for a number of years.
Affectionately known as Gramps by the kids, he can often be seen out in the garden with senior students weeding, spreading bark or picking produce, Mr Perriam says.
“He is the Kaumātua of our school, offering his time and knowledge to support not just the growth of our tamariki but also the wider Northcote Community. Our students are much richer for having had the opportunity to learn from Tahi and we think that without him Northcote School would not be the special place that it is.’’
Tahi’s expertise is not only appreciated by the school.
During November and December, he has been helping stage a free course called “Gardening for beginners’’ wheher tenants and other members of the community learn how to plant a container garden, plat and grow seedlings and more.
This course was organised and supported by the Northcote and Redwood branch of Neighbourhood Links, Northcote Community Services Trust and Kāinga Ora.
Page updated: 20 December 2019