A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands



This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.

The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.

SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).




PAPGREN coordination and support

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners

    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?



    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    The "Maori potato" in New Zealand

    The following article recently appeared in Stuff, a New Zealand news and information website. According to this website, which includes nice photographs, by "Maori potato" is meant "a collection of varieties of Solanum tuberosum now cultivated by Maori for at least 200 years." There's more on "taewa Maori" here.

    Maori potato crop getting established

    7 Jan. 2005

    Potatoes they may be, but there's nothing humble about the crop Te Hoori Rikirangi holds in his hands – they are treasure and one he is happily giving away.

    Mr Rikirangi's one hectare Ihi Organics garden in Tauranga is one of the few places in the Western Bay of Plenty where taewa, or "Maori potatoes", are grown commercially, but every week he takes seed potatoes to Tauranga Farmers' Market to give to anyone who wants to grow them.

    "I tried selling them, but I'm no salesman. I decided to give them away to people to try. My satisfaction is getting people to grow the potatoes themselves and giving me a running report on how they're doing. It's taken a while for me to let the seeds out and I don't know that my mum would have agreed with what I'm doing," Mr Rikirangi said.

    "But we've already lost some of these varieties once.

    "A delegation went to Japan about 10 years ago to bring these taonga back to us. All kai is a treasure but these Maori potatoes are truly a treasure."

    Massey University in Palmerston North set up a seed bank for taewa five years ago and now has more than 30 varieties. Many have survived the arrival of the bigger, hybrid potatoes only thanks to being grown in marae gardens and by those who prize their "heirloom" qualities.

    "My mum and uncles have all been growers," Mr Rikirangi said, "and I've learned from them."

    Maori potatoes are thought to have come to New Zealand with the earliest sailors, whalers and sealers who planted them as a reliable food source. Of the six varieties that Mr Rikirangi grows perhaps only one may be mistaken for a modern potato. The others are smaller, some with pink skins, some with purple and the knobbly urenika has a dark purple skin and flesh.

    The potential of these potatoes, which all have thin, edible skins, has been recognised by supermarket operators and one organics company planned to have three varieties in North Island supermarkets this month.

    Mr Rikirangi has been approached by a Tauranga supermarket with a view to supplying Maori potatoes.

    "I said that I can't do quantity, but they seemed happy with whatever I could manage."

    He has been moving toward a full organic operation for eight years and last month had a visit from a BioGro auditor as part of the move from conversion status to fully-fledged organic production.

    His decision to work his land according to organic principles was based on a desire to produce quality, rather than quantity. He keeps his various taewa as far apart as possible to guard against cross-pollination and says that although the work is hard and the hours long, his choice has been the right one.

    "They thrive on being grown organically and I've been getting a super-bumper crop."

    Although Maori potatoes are grown commercially in large numbers in Eastern Bay of Plenty, Mr Rikirangi believes he is one of the few growing such a wide variety.

    As well, he grows two of the rarer kumara – pokena (pumpkin) and tauranga red, a strain that originated in the city for which it is named – plus chinese greens, broccoli and taro.

    Meanwhile, Massey University last year began identifying the characteristics of taewa with a view to maximising their economic potential, working alongside Tahuri Whenua, the Maori Vegetable Growers' Collective.

    The aim is to develop high-value food products using the unique physical and cultural aspects of the Maori potato, such as their colour, a spokesman said.

    New storage and preservation technologies also need to be developed to deliver chef-ready taewa to overseas restaurants at a premium price.

    Crop and Food Research are working with Massey and Maori growers in seven sites around the country testing different varieties.

    Vegfed notes that Maori potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre, as well as containing potassium, thiamine, folate and magnesium. They are high in starch and latest research indicates that coloured food is nutritionally preferable because of higher antioxidant levels.

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