In the Motueka Valley, there is no slowing down for Mihau and Valetta Sówika, of Matariki Mushrooms.
Not only do they focus on growing native mushrooms, they are also firmly focused on cultivating awareness. In 2021, Mihau and Valetta launched pilot project Heal the Whenua, in collaboration with Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu and Te Āwhina Marae, to look at ways of using fungi to break down toxins from the environment. They have also provided support and training to whānau and hapori members on how to grow their own mushrooms, launched an at-home mushroom growing kit and designed and delivered an at-home course for tamariki.
Last week we were privileged to attend the launch of Valetta’s new pukapuka, Family of Forest and Fungi – He Tukutuku Toiora at Motueka Public Library. “He tukutuku toiora” translates as “a network of life” and refers to the role of fungi as an interconnector of Papatūānuku. The book, which is targeted at 8- to 12-year-olds, has been illustrated by award-winning children’s book illustrator Isobel Joy Te Aho-White, and includes te reo translations by local reo kaiako, Hana Park.
Valetta and Michael have not just created a book – they have impacted the lives of so many whānau for the better. We look forward to seeing what further magic they bring!
Heylie Palahame (Te Āti Awa, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Porou) established Harakeke Village in Blenheim with the aim of enriching the lives of whānau Māori by building identity and strengthening hauora through aroha, manaakitanga, kotahitanga and whanaungatanga. In the Tinana Ora section of Harakeke Village, whānau can take part in physical activities such as aqua-jogging, boxing, poi-fit, walking and netball. “It’s all about encouraging whānau to live healthy lifestyles and to tackle that in a holistic way, looking at everything from physical health to mental, emotional, social and spiritual health,” Heylie says. Click here to read more about Heylie and her pakihi.