Posted by shiny on 2019-07-11 10:56:01 UTC and edited at 2019-07-12 03:37:10 UTC


Generally, "Taewa" is the term used for potatoes that have been in New Zealand since before 1800, and cultivated by Maori people - but the word can be used for all potatoes.

The kūmara is a distant cousin of the potato. Both the taewa and the kūmara come from South America. Where and when and how the taewa arrived in our islands depends on who you ask. Iwi know their own history, some can tell you which ancestor brought the potato here and when. More recently pakeha historians have concluded Captain Cook must have brought it over to New Zealand, but this smells a lot like not wanting to accept that history is shaped by people who are not white. It's more likely to me that the incredibly skilled navigators of the world's largest oceans made a stop in the Americas at some point, and found or traded tubers.

I have a lot of these taewa. They need to be grown every year, as they don't store for more than one winter. They live in the bottom shelf of the hallway linen closet all winter, packed away in brown paper bags and a cardboard box. At some point, they will self-sprout and have lots of long roots when I open the bags in late July (after Matariki).

The taewa can grow much further south than the kumara. Until very recently kūmara could not grow in Wellington at all. Now with hot dry summers of climate change, I can. But taewa are something magical. They needed to be cared for, by a long line of people to reach me. They're not available in supermarkets, and only rarely found for sale. Generally, if you have taewa, someone gave or traded them with you, or you inherited them from your grandparents.

The whataroa potato holds its shape through long slow cooking. You can bake it all day in the slow cooker and it will be cooked and not a gunky mash. Hence it is great in any curry. It's a white potato with flecks of purple in the flesh.

the rīwai kikorangi needs to be cooked carefully. It burns quickly. Too hard to roast, but you can fry it into chips easily. It stains any chopping board you use with deep purple colour.

waiporoporo means "purple". This taewa has a purple skin

There was no Wikipedia page on māori potato - so i started one. Many other people have now edited it too.