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Maranui - the Big Garden

Sue and Greg Rine and their four children have a green vision of being self-sufficient in energy and regionally sufficient in food. They hope that Maranui - the big garden, will be the means of achieving this. Maranui is actually a permaculture farm high on the hills east of Stratford, with an inspiring view of mount Taranaki in the background.

Concrete foundations show where the house will be. It was going to be a straw brick construction but they settled for timber sawn at a nearby mill. Solar panels and a wind turbine connected to banks of batteries will power the home but will supply only enough electricity to run basic low wattage appliances. When the teenage daughters want to run their power-hungry hair-straightener, for example, they can only do so on a windy, sunny day.

Everything on the farm has a least one purpose: the donkeys eat the thistles, doing away with the need for costly, polluting weed killers. The chickens supply eggs but also fertilize the vege garden. Sue swaps eggs for milk with local dairy farmers. Spectrum's Jack Perkins takes a tour of Maranui.

Pumice-concrete fridge

Keep this pumice-concrete fridge damp and its contents stay cool. Photos Suzanne Foster