NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group
SOMETHING SPECIAL TO EAT
They love their kūmara, do the Kaiparians, which is just as well as they produce most of New Zealand's crop. The fertile, alluvial soil, the nearby Northern Wairoa River, and the sub-tropical climate combine to create the ultimate kūmara-growing environment. The vegetable has been a staple of the New Zealand diet since the first Māori settlers stashed them onboard their waka. Those small tubers have been replaced by the larger, thicker kūmara now known and loved, which were introduced by European settlers. There are three main varieties grown in Dargaville, Rūāwai and Kaipara; the red ‘Ōwairaka', orange ‘Beauregard' and the gold ‘Toka Toka'. The rise in keto and paleo diets has seen a spike in the popularity of the orange kūmara. Kumara is loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and is rich in fibre and low in fat. Some 24,000 tonnes of kūmara are grown here annually, and with most of that coming from Kaipara's alluvial plains, there's often no shortage of places to pick up a sack. Roadside stalls are numerous, especially around Rūāwai, otherwise many local hotels and pubs have them on the menu (including the Thirsty Tūī in Paparoa).