Our District

Sharing knowledge and kai at the KEEN hui

KEEN is Kāpiti Environmental Educators Network. Every term we organise a workshop/cluster meeting for school, kura, preschool and kohanga educators to get together and share ideas across the rohe/district.

Recently we met at Tū Roa kōhanga reo in Ōtaki and were treated to a tour, including the thriving māra kai and the historic old pohutukawa tree. Kaiako Mariana shared the secrets of their bumper kūmara harvest this year – they bought the tupu (shoots) by mail order from Kōanga gardens, and the beds had lots of gravel added from when the paths were dug up. Gravel helps warm up the soil and also maintains sharp drainage so tubers can’t rot in the ground.

Growing kumara:

  • Plant tupu (shoots) rather than tubers (as with potatoes)
  • They go in the ground when it has warmed up (Late October/November)
  • They need lots of sun and ideally five months of warm weather

For the best information on growing kumara in this part of the motu (island), go to Kath Irvine’s Edible Backyard guide, available as an e-book download:


We also shared knowledge on growing hue (gourds) and looked at a Para Kore/ Zero Waste activity, making a timeline of how long different materials take to decompose (you might be surprised).

As always at KEEN gatherings we also enjoyed kai together and Te Atawhai, poutautoko of Te Aho Tū Roa shared her powerball recipe: super easy, she says, in a nutribullet or whizzer. 

  • Nuts (I used just over a handful of cashews)
  • Chocolate (I used white buttons)
  • Cranberries (handful or so)
  • Desiccated coconut (another handful)
  • You can add oats if you like
  • Honey to bind it together.

Whizz it all up (except for honey) be careful as it can quickly turn to powder! Lastly add honey, some like to add salt, which I did, and roll into balls. Put in fridge to cool, drizzle with coconut, or melted chocolate or whatever you fancy. Delish for the kids lunch box too.

If you want to be on the KEEN mailing list to find out about future hui (they happen every term), contact Hannah on greengardener@kapiticoast.govt.nz. The next hui will be early in Term 4