We love what we do at Archeus. We love working with plants and love working with people – bring the two together and add in the other aspect that we regard vital for living, i.e. conservation – and things really start to shine.
When I established Archeus I wanted to create a plant conservation project that was a way of giving back to the land that nurtured me and gave rise to my dreams around Archeus and the idea of vital living. Through a mix of conversation, exploration and collaboration, the idea that came to light is one of propagating and replanting the Raukawa tree back into the landscape.
The Raukawa (Raukaua edgerleyii) is a very special tree. It is very hard to find now as its wonderfully aromatic leaves, that were once used by Maori to make perfume, are like icecream sundae to livestock and pests such as possums that have grazed it out. This tree was very special to Maori because of the perfume they made from it, and it has featured in many love stories over the centuries, most notably the union between the beautiful Kahungungu princess Mahinarangi and Turongo, son of Tainui chief Tawhiao. Not only was Mahinarangi gorgeous, but she also anointed herself with the perfume and wore the leaves of the Raukawa tree in her hair, which made her pretty much irresistible. Turongo had travelled to the area and became entranced by her and, to cut a long story short, married her and they returned to the Waikato. They named their first son Raukawa and he began the Ngati Raukawa line.
Coincidentally, the meeting and marriage of this legendary couple took place in the rural district I grew up in, called Raukawa, in Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand. With all these layers and connections it felt important for me personally to try and help bring this wonderful tree back to the landscape… and it seems the idea is catching on.
Conservation is always best when shared. There have been many discussions with organisations including Nga Whenua Rahui, Department of Corrections and the Department of Conservation over the past few months. A number of people have set sail with me on this journey of conservation and restoration and there are a few particular people I would like to warmly thank for their advice, encouragement, support, wisdom and collaboration so far and they are Rob McGowan, Taute Taiepa, Whetu Tipiwai, Mike Mohi, Ranui Toatoa, Cathy Allan, Dan Herries and Tania Luscombe. Between us all we are building the foundation for a project that will hopefully result in this wonderful tree finding its way back into the landscape.
Making it happen
This project is about ecological restoration as well as conservation. The idea is that we will gather some seeds over the coming weeks from a couple of trees we do know of. With the help of some expert plants-people we hope to be able to germinate some of the seeds this year and really look after them and encourage them to grow. Then, down the track we divide these seedlings among our key growing partners, for example, the Hawke's Bay Regional Prison may grow some of these seedlings into saplings at their Whare Oranga Ake project, creating a project that is a mix of horticultural skills development and cultural history. Other seedlings will go to other partners to help nurture and grow them.
We are developing an education programme to wrap like a big warm blanket of knowledge around the people this touches. We envisage being able to take this education activity into local schools as well. Then, in a couple of years from now we will be able to start the careful process of planting these lovely trees back into the Hawkes Bay landscape on both private and public land. Year on year this will grow and its reach will expand.
With every seed there also grows a greater awareness of the stories of our place and our timeless connection to Nature. We love that. You can be part of this as every time you buy an Archeus product some of the proceeds will go towards funding this ambitious project. If you think you can help the project in other ways then do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]