21 Jun 2012

Researcher to apply traditional Maori knowledge to farming

8:51 am on 21 June 2012

A University of Otago researcher says she's looking to the past to improve farming through traditional Maori knowledge.

Marion Johnson and her team have been granted $600,000 by Nga Pae o te Maramatanga - a centre of Research Excellence.

She's planning to talk to grass-roots people who know their environment well and can give her team case studies about traditional mahinga kai (food gathering) practices in rural areas.

Dr Johnson says she wants to work closely with Maori to gather information on the right conditions for growing traditional kai such as watercress in creeks on or near farmer's properties.

She says to farmers these kinds of plants would be considered weeds and have no value because people aren't worried about cultural access, ecology or biodiversity.

Dr Johnson says she hopes to give these kinds of kai value and make farmers aware of what they can achieve in the gullies and creeks where these types of plants thrive, instead of it all eroding away.

The project will run for two years.