As Chairperson of the Cook Islands based kiaTAERIA organisation, I am excited to be in partnership with the Canterbury Permaculture Institute; to connect with like-minded organisations and offer support and collaboration towards our shared purpose of advancing effective change through education and example.

kiaTAERIA was instrumental in the annual Cook Islands environmental education awareness expo: ‘Lagoon day.’

Lagoon Day 2012 challenged us to ‘Dream the possible dream’; recognising that ‘all action begins in the mind’; change can only happen if we first believe it’s possible so ‘dare to dream of a better future’.

Lagoon day 2013 asked the question ‘What now?’, recognising that ‘we won’t protect what we don’t understand’.

These seeds of inspiration and questioning found fertile ground in my life while living on the island of Sark, Channel Islands, UK; from 2007-2018.  With a background in Horticultural Science (RHS) and working in Organic Market gardens, I began to study Permaculture and completed a PDC before embarking on a Journey into the Diploma in Applied Permaculture.

The challenges presented by the Diploma were like water to these seeds; growing many opportunities, networks, possibilities and solutions. 

One of these was the Design, implementation, and co-ordination of a permaculture Market garden for Stocks Hotel and Restaurant on Sark (as featured in the International Permaculture Magazine). Providing educational tours, designing informative resources, and becoming an award-winning garden on the RHS garden tour list.

Other commissioned designs included a grey water reed bed treatment system, compost shower system, wildlife friendly shelter belts, rain water harvesting and integrated food production systems.

By 2015 I was an established kiaTAERIA representative in the Channel Islands, (working Towards Awareness of Environmental Responsibility and Individual Action).  Permaculture challenged me to observe and interact with my community and identify the best way to promote environmental awareness and solution-based thinking.

This led to the conception and organisation of Sark Roots Festival: a three-day event showcasing live music, permaculture, workshops, environmental awareness and networking.  In its 3rd year Sark Roots was reviewed by the Guernsey press as ‘the best Channel Islands festival of 2018’. It has been an incredible platform to spread the word of permaculture and connect with many like-minded individuals and organisations within the Channel Islands, U.K, and beyond.

In early 2019 I returned home to Te Wai Pounamu to establish a Canterbury branch of kiaTAERIA; to connect with and support organisations working to promote positive change in Aotearoa.  It has been an honor to partner with CPI and support them in education, consultancy and in the Kaitiaki of the Sumner Food forest.

Looking towards the future, I’m excited with the conversations we are having with key Christchurch organisations and departments*. Exploring a collaborative, whole systems approach to gardening in Schools with a vision of ‘growing the growers and returning mana to the land’; ‘Where every child has access to a thriving community garden and understands our interconnections within it’. 

In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand,

and we will understand only what we are taught’ 

Baba Dioum 1968. (2013 Lagoon day quote)

* Christchurch City Council, District board of Health, Food Resilience Network, Christchurch Horticultural Society, Canterbury Community Gardens Association, Canterbury Permaculture Institute, Germinate Collective, BHU-Lincoln University, Garden to Table, Bee Awesome, Orchards in Schools, Eco Educate, kiaTAERIA

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