They might look like small, purple potatoes, but “taewa” are so much more, writes Glenn McConnell in this article published by Stuff.co.nz. He writes that the most popular taewa is a purple potato, called tūtaekurī. Taewa, however, are much more than just small purple potatoes.
Professor Nick Roskruge, an ethnobotanist from the Ngāti Rāhiri hapū of Te Ātiawa, has made a career out of crops and potatoes. The taewa – potatoes which have grown a unique identity, flavour and texture here in Aotearoa in New Zealand – are his favourite.
Taewa come in every shape, and a multitude of colours. There are taewa with dark brown skins and purple inside; pale white inside, and golden yellow outside; maroon red skins, and orange inside. They’re similar, but also quite different, to what you’d find piled at most supermarkets in New Zealand.
The origin of taewa is disputed. All potatoes originate from South America, including the kūmara. But unlike the kūmara, Roskruge says taewa do not feature in the surviving oral history of Māori.
As Roskruge talks about taewa, the conversations jumps from the history of Aotearoa. He talks of a battle against the odds to save taewa from extinction, during a dire potato pandemic. And now, he says, we are seeing the taewa resurgence. “We get messages every week from people looking for seeds, they want the taewa they grew up on and are looking to go back to experiences and food of their grandparents,” he says.
Source: Stuff. Read the full story and watch a video here
Photo: Taewa have a unique and special connection to Māori, says professor Nick Roskruge. Photo courtesy Warwick Smith/Stuff