The word Whenua does not only mean Land but also the placenta where the pepi is nutured during haputanga (pregnancy) Maori have always considered Papatuanuku as their Mother. Therefore Papatuanauku is considered the giver of life.
. “From the soil, came food and that same food was cooked beneath the earth”.
Toitu te Whenua Toitu te Tangata.
The use and protection of the Whenua was inherited through Whakapapa. With this right came the requirement to grow food for the Whanau and Hapu. Of course protecting your land was also part of the Ahi Kaa responsiblities.
Maori gathered their Kai from Te Ao Turoa, Ngahere (bush) Awa (rivers) Tangaroa (sea) and Mara (gardens).
Traditionally we ate birds and fish from the sea and rivers. Kai was also supplemented by wild herbs and roots from trees and plants.
Wild herbs were gathered from the bush and included plants like horopito a peppery spicy leaf, puha a nutritional green leaf, and dried kelp gathered off the beach.
Today great delicious recipes on using these traditional wild herbs can be found on master chef Charles Royals site by clicking here