Students studying joinery at the Western Institute of Technology Taranaki (WITT) have built the planter boxes and, complete with soil and seedlings, some have now been delivered by the Bishop’s Action Foundation (BAF) to Kāinga Ora customers in the region. 
To keep the vegetables and whānau thriving, Sustainable Taranaki (through the Marfell Community Garden) will provide advice and guidance on caring for the plants.  
Daniel Fuemana, Director of Trade Training, Primary and Creative Industries at WITT, says building the planter boxes teaches the Year 11, 12 and 13 students various joinery skills. 
“Providing meaningful mahi will really bring the learning alive for these joinery ākonga (students) and they take great pride in knowing the planter boxes will be used to help community members,” says Daniel. 
Maya Harrison and Misha Hoskin, Year 12 students from New Plymouth Girls’ High School, say the planter box project has been rewarding, especially knowing the boxes will be used in the community for people to grow food. Both have been doing woodwork at school and have enjoyed the opportunity through WITT’s Secondary Tertiary Pathway to develop their skills by using a wide range of hand, power, and fixed tools in the carpentry workshop on campus.  
The planter box initiative grew out of the need to increase food resiliency in the community, says Mieke Verschoor, workshop coordinator and facilitator at Sustainable Taranaki. 
“Many people have realised through the COVID lockdowns and supermarket food shortages how important it is to grow their own kai. It helps them be self-reliant and share what they don’t need with whānau, friends and neighbours. In addition, we also know that gardening and growing food is important for someone’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.” 
BAF Chief Executive Officer Simon Cayley agrees that kai is an important connector, allowing people to share with neighbours and engage in community initiatives like crop swaps and community gardens. 
“Food grown in the planter boxes can be harvested and enjoyed in a nutritious shared meal with friends, family, and neighbours that they can feel proud of. By learning to grow their own food, Kāinga Ora customers will be able to share their knowledge with family and friends, passing on their learnings to the next generation.”

Front row L-R Lauren Darrah - Kainga Ora, Maya Harrison - student planter box maker and Alex McNab - Bishop’s Action Foundation.
Back row L-R Mieke Verschoor - Sustainable Taranaki, Stephen Sharpe - WITT Tutor, Misha Hoskin - student planter box maker, Karen - Kāinga Ora customer and Kerrie Thomson-Booth - WITT Deputy Director

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Page updated: 5 June 2024