Taewa, Riwai Spuds

Taewa, riwai[1]

Taewa, riwai or Māori potatoes are some of the most deeply treasured Māori foods available to us today. Ironically they are not native to Aotearoa or even Polynesia but instead originate from South America . There are 18 varieties, with information about many of these being held only by the few that grow them. However beginner growers should try and grow some of the more accessible varieties.

All potatoes prefer cool, moist soils and will not grow on the same soils year after year. Try and rotate your potato crop at least every second year. Māori potatoes are grown using very similar methods to those used for kūmara, in mounds.

Once you harvest your taewa, if you are going to save them, you should leave them out in the air to dry off first, to harden off to ensure they store well, making sure to get all the ones with bites or nicks out so that they dont contaminate each other and rot. Sugar sacks are good for storing them in, however when they start sprouting theyll go through the sugar bag and you tend to damage them too much trying to get them out. Covering them with fern leaf is a good way of keeping them dry as the fern spores keep them healthy. Mamaku is a good fern for this. Plastic crates are also good to hold them in as they are easy to handle. It is important for Māori potatoes that your pataka has good free air flow and is dry, cool and dark.

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