Exploring North Canterbury for Walnuts

As Autumn arrives in North Canterbury, so does the abundance of walnuts from the numerous wild walnut trees scattered throughout the region. 

Historically, walnuts were a staple in hunter-gatherer diets, with their origins tracing back to Asia. Interestingly, healers from various cultures have noted the resemblance between walnuts and the human brain, considering them a great brain food.

Walnuts are relatively easy to grow from seed, self-pollinating (but bearing more fruit near other walnut trees) and providing an annual source of healthy nuts. However, they also have a peculiar trait of inhibiting the growth of other plants nearby, so caution is advised if you have one in your garden or plan to include in a food forest.

There are several spots in North Canterbury where you can forage for walnuts during the autumn season. One favorite location of mine is the Ashley River, a few kilometres east of Rangiora. This spot usually yields enough walnuts for multiple trips, making it an enjoyable activity for the whole family.

When foraging in the wild, it’s essential to be mindful of the surrounding environment. Look out for signs of chemical sprays and ensure that the trees and surrounding areas appear healthy and green. Trees near water sources tend to produce larger fruits and nuts, so keep an eye out for them near rivers, creeks, or in lower-lying areas.

You can usually find enough walnuts on the ground for foraging, but if you’re adventurous, you can also pick them directly from the tree. It’s best to pick the ones where the fruit has split open. However, be prepared for your fingers to be stained, as the skins and fruits of walnuts were historically used as a brown dye for fabric. Wearing gloves can prevent this staining.

Once you’ve collected enough walnuts, it’s crucial to dry them properly. Place them in a sunny, well-ventilated area or a warm room for a few days to remove moisture. Avoid layering the walnuts on top of each other to prevent mold or rot. You can then shell and store the nuts or keep them in their ‘natural packaging’ until you’re ready to enjoy them. The natural packaging is an effective fire tinder over winter also.

If you’re planning a walnut foraging adventure in North Canterbury, here are some tips to ensure success:

  1.  Timing is key:

Walnuts typically ripen between March and May, so plan your foraging trip during these months for the best results.

  1. Look for walnut trees:

Keep an eye out for walnut trees along riverbanks, in parks, or on private properties (with permission, of course!).

  1. Spot the signs:

Look for green hulls that have split open, revealing the shell inside. This indicates that the walnuts are ready for harvesting.

  1. Bring the right tools:

Bring the right tools: Pack gloves to protect your hands from staining, a bucket or bag for collecting, and a nutcracker to crack open the shells.

Holding walnuts

Nutritional Facts About Walnuts:

 Walnuts are packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

– They are a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including magnesium and phosphorus.

– Incorporating walnuts into your diet may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Foraging and Food Security:

Foraging for wild foods like walnuts is not only a fun outdoor activity but also an important part of food security. It allows us to connect with nature, diversify our diets, and reduce reliance on industrialised food systems. By learning to identify and harvest wild foods sustainably, we can enhance our resilience to food shortages and contribute to a more sustainable future. Happy foraging!

Martin is a Rangiora local, who grows vegetables, fruit and forages for food seasonally. “Our environment provides for all of our needs, the secret is to know what you need”.

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Community Gardens For Building Stronger Communities and Food Security

Community Gardens For Building Stronger Communities and Food Security

In an era where digital connections often overshadow face-to-face interactions, community gardens stand as vibrant and transformative spaces.

These oases of greenery not only offer an opportunity to grow fresh produce but also foster a sense of belonging, promote sustainability, and empower communities. In this article, we will explore the beauty and benefits of community gardens, highlighting their positive impact on individuals and neighborhoods.

  1. Nurturing Relationships:

Community gardens serve as meeting grounds for like-minded individuals, fostering connections among people from diverse backgrounds. The act of gardening together creates opportunities for meaningful conversations, shared experiences, and a sense of belonging. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice with a curious spirit, community gardens provide a supportive environment where knowledge and skills can be exchanged, deepening community ties.

  1. Growing Food, Growing Resilience:

One of the fundamental aspects of community gardens is their ability to enhance food security and resilience. By growing their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, community gardeners become more self-reliant and gain control over their food supply. This is particularly valuable for individuals and families facing financial constraints or lacking access to fresh, healthy produce. Moreover, in times of crisis or disruptions in the food system, community gardens can serve as local sources of sustenance and nourishment.

  1. Sustainability in Action:

Community gardens embody sustainability at its core. These green spaces encourage organic gardening practices, composting, and water conservation techniques, reducing reliance on chemical inputs and minimizing environmental impact. By cultivating an appreciation for the natural world and practicing sustainable gardening methods, community gardeners contribute to the preservation of local ecosystems and the overall health of the planet.

  1. Spaces for Learning and Empowerment:

Community gardens are not limited to the act of growing plants; they also serve as educational platforms and empowerment hubs. Many community gardens offer workshops, classes, and demonstrations on topics such as permaculture, composting, and urban farming. These initiatives equip individuals with practical skills and knowledge, empowering them to become stewards of the environment and advocates for sustainable living. Additionally, community gardens often collaborate with local schools, providing students with hands-on learning experiences and fostering a sense of responsibility towards nature.

  1. Building Stronger Communities:

Community gardens act as catalysts for positive social change. They create spaces where neighbors can come together, fostering a sense of community pride, ownership, and cooperation. These gardens often host events, celebrations, and festivals, further strengthening community bonds. By nurturing a shared sense of purpose and fostering a spirit of collaboration, community gardens contribute to safer, healthier, and more vibrant neighborhoods.

Kaiapoi Community Garden
Hope Community Garden
Community gardens represent more than just plots of land filled with plants. They are dynamic and transformative spaces that cultivate connections, resilience, and sustainable practices. Through fostering relationships, promoting food security, embracing sustainability, and empowering individuals, community gardens bring positive change to both individuals and the communities they serve. So, let’s embrace the magic of community gardens, sow the seeds of togetherness, and watch as these green spaces bloom into flourishing centers of empowerment and nourishment for all.
One of North Canterbury’s newest community gardens is in Woodend. Run by Andy Childs, who has extensive gardening experience and is the vice president of the Woodend Community Association.
Produce from the Woodend Community Garden is shared between volunteers, families in need at Woodend School, and the Woodend Community Pantry (situated in the WASP carpark).
We would love to see Andy and his team at the Woodend Community Garden continue to grow and thrive – if you would like to learn more about the garden you can contact Andy on 027 512 2681, or visit The Community of Woodend page on Facebook.
Andy Childs at Woodend Community Garden

Other great community gardens you can get involved with in North Canterbury include Kaiapoi Community Garden and Hope Community Garden – Rangiora. Both of which run valuable workshops throughout the year too!

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Te Wiki o te Reo Māori / Māori Language Week 2023

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori / Māori Language Week 2023

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori / Māori Language Week 2023

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2023

11-17 Mahuru/Hepetema (September) 2023

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) is held every September in honour of the presentation of the Māori Language Petition to parliament in 1972. Now in 2023, 51 years later, despite there being some negativity there is a growing trend to celebrate te reo Māori.

There are many ways we can celebrate te reo Māori, like using kupu (words) in every day conversation, and learning and practicing the correct pronunciation of Māori place names. For inspiration we have compiled some mahi māra (gardening) and kai (food) words and phrases in te reo Māori,  and shared some useful links and learning resources.

Learning another language (or any new skill) can be very challenging but is hugely rewarding! Be kind to yourself, go at your own pace – everyone has to start somewhere.

Kia Kaha te Reo Māori! Let’s make the Māori language strong!

Over 30,000 signatures collected for petition to revitalise Te Reo Māori

On 14 September 1972, Ngā Tamatoa and Te Reo Māori Society presented a petition with more than 30,000 signatures to the parliament to have te reo Māori taught in schools. It has been recognised yearly since 1975 as a week for New Zealanders to celebrate te reo Māori together.

Hana Te Hemara (1940 – 1999) was a prominent Māori leader and a founding member of Māori activist group Ngā Tamatoa. The iamhana.nz website shares a wealth of knowledge about Hana Te Hemara’s life, the work of Ngā Tamatoa, and the 50th anniversary of their petition to parliament.


Mahi Māra (Gardening) and kai (food) words and phrases in Te Reo Māori

Mahi māra – Gardening

He rawe te mahi māra – Gardening is fun

Kamupūtu – Gumboots

Kei hea ō kamupūtu? – Where are your gumboots

Me whakatō ngā kākano ināianei – Plant the seeds now

Kua kohi au i ngā parahanga hei wairākau – I have collected all the waste to make compost

Kua makuru te kai, nā te angitu o te māra – We have an abundance of food because our garden was a success

Noke / Ngā noke – Worm / Worms

Mā ngā noke e pai ake ai te āhua o te oneone – Worms improve the condition of the soil

Ringaringa – Hands

He kai kei aku ringaringa – I can produce my food with my own hands

Kai – Food

He tino reka ngā kai – This food is delicious!

Hua whenua – Vegetables

He aha te kai o te pō – What’s for dinner?

Parakuihi – Breakfast

He aha te kai mō te parakuihi? – What’s for breakfast?

Parāoa – Bread

Pata – Butter

Homai te parāoa me te pata– Pass the bread and butter

Tiakina ngā toenga – Save the leftovers

Mīti – Meat

Kei te kī te mīti i te pūmua kia pakari ai ō uaua – Meat is full of protein to build your muscles

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi– With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive


Phrases taken from the book Māori at Home: An everyday guide to learning the Māori langauge

Pūrārangi Māori (The Māori Alphabet)

Pūrārangi Māori / The Māori Alphabet

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa have this super handy tool for learning how to pronounce pūrārangi Māori (the Māori alphabet).

Simply click on any button to hear how it is pronounced.

For example; to learn how to pronounce pūrārangi, listen to pū – rā – ra – ngi (make sure to pay attention to the macrons e.g. , pū / pu). Check it out here.




Huatau (Ideas) and Rauemi (Resources) for Further Learning

ReoMaori.co.nz have prepared some huatau (ideas) you can do to use and speak more te reo Māori.

“It could be as easy as greeting everyone you see with ‘kia ora’, starting your Zoom call with “mōrena”, or playing te reo Māori songs in your workplace all day.”

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