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An Afternoon with Rob Tipa – Saturday 26 January 2019

The workshop with Rob Tipa on traditional uses of native plants was well booked up weeks before the weekend, such that we have a waiting list for another course!

Rob and Stella travelled from Dunedin and gave a lovely introduction to their philosophy, their journey and their lifestyle on the Otago Peninsula. Rob explained his ancestry, his love for native plants and his journalistic background that led him to producing his book “Treasures of Tane” last year. The book is a great mix of traditional uses, plant identification, stories and historical aspects all put together in very readable fashion with great photos. “It makes native plants and their stories accessible to everyone, rather than locked away in reference sections of libraries” he said.

Stella then gave everyone a look at their very steep and challenging section in Otago and explained the history of their garden there – they bought the view! - looking across the Otago Harbour towards Quarantine Island. The garden is a mix of cottage plants, natives, and plants which hold the moisture on a very dry steep site which they garden organically. Rob is also a beekeeper and they look after a gully of bush next to their section. Contour paths built around the cliff enable them to garden the very steep section which they first had to clear of invasive weeds.

Then we went over to Rances restoration and pond area where Rob talked about and demonstrated ways in which early Maori used native plants – for survival. Such was the usefulness of harakeke (flax) that when Europeans said they didn’t have flax in their country local Maori could not see how they could live without it! More stories and demonstrations, with great help from Jade, followed both out in the bush and back in the building, including fire starting (that wasn’t covered in Chris’ health and safety plan!) with mahoe logs and totara sticks.

We all shared some kai and chatted amongst eachother and we are all keen to see Rob and Stella back sometime soon.

Nga mihi

Chris