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The Autobiography of a Maori

"They Live in Their Gardens"

"They Live in Their Gardens"

The grounds around are in keeping with the appearance of the house. At the front are a well-kept tennis court and mown lawns; at the sides are flower-beds. From the bay-window can be seen a large bed of rose-bushes which, as I write, are in full bloom and are of all shades and colours. Beyond the rose-bed is a bed of about two-hundred gladioli.

Perhaps a little about the gardening side of my wife's life may now be mentioned. Though we are both fond of gardening, my wife is more successful than I She toils incessantly in her flower and kitchen gardens and also in the larger cultivations of kumaras, potatoes, maize, pumpkins, marrow, and water and rock-melons.

In order to keep down the weeds in the kumara cultivations, my wife starts to work before breakfast, takes a spell when breakfast is brought to her, and page 124then starts again and continues until lunchtime. Lunch is also brought to her. For an hour or two after lunch, she takes a siesta for which she does not go home but, instead, lies on a rug spread out on the long grass under a shady tree. When she wakes up she is soon back at her hand-hoe and works on until it is time to go home for tea. My wife works in the kumara cultivation until the runners become too long. She repeats the performance every year but does not neglect her flower and kitchen gardens.

In 1947, the Under Secretary of the Native Department, Mr. G. P. Shepherd, with a party of nine, visited East Cape. Mr. Shepherd was delighted with the kitchen gardens of such an out-of-the-way place. He was particularly thrilled by the peas which were at various stages of maturity. He said to Mrs. Kohers, "I am sure you've kept your gardens in such splendid order, not in anticipation of a visit from my party, but just for your own pleasure and for the good of your family. I wish all Maori families did the same. How much better off and happier they would be." Later, I called on Mr. Shepherd in his office at Wellington and he told me that the day he and his party had spent at East Cape was one of the happiest days of his life.