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It all started with an idea in a backyard

Dan and I were both working demanding jobs in the city. Dan was managing a busy company and I was a primary school teacher.  Feeling the stress from our jobs we decided to grow plants as a way to relax.  I had always loved gardening as a child.  I started off growing easy seedlings, and then one day I had an idea..... grow LOTS of sweet corn in our backyard and sell it at the local markets. Dan thought my idea was just amazing!  We quickly got to work and planted our 1/4 acre section in sweet corn seedlings.  Unfortunately the sweet corn did not go to plan. We had worm issues and the cobs failed to ripen properly. Our harvest was filled with bugs, on top of that the corn cobs were completely flavourless.  

We found out later, by a keen local gardener that our climate in Rotorua was not the best for growing sweetcorn. However this set back didn't deter our desire to keep growing crops. We continued trialling and growing plants.

One of the crops we grew was a mini puha plantation. The puha plantation was a success!

Lets move!..

A timely opportunity arose for us to purchase a small family farm in Whakatane.  We jumped at the idea without hesitation or any thought as to what we would do for income.

Time was against us, we had to act quickly and sell our houses in Rotorua. We had two months to renovate and sell two houses and then buy our dream farm.

After lots of hard work and two house sales, we had enough money to cover our deposit. We breathed a sigh of relief when we signed the new property agreement.

Moving to Whakatane...A move to the country meant that we were able to switch jobs and create a slower paced lifestyle. When we first moved we grazed stock. Slowly but surely we began to convert the land into cultivating native herbs and plants.

Growing and understanding our native botanicals is a practise that has continued on through the generations.  My Koro was a native plant specialist and teacher. He would often teach students about our native plants, their benefits and how to use them.  When I was a young child, he would attempt to teach me about the native medicinal plants.  

Manuka seeds...Our first native plantation was Manuka. We were gifted special Manuka seeds from whānau (family). We grew and planted them all by hand following the organic guidelines.  

Our Organic Manuka leaf tea comes from this special seed. We continued to grow more native herbs and colourful edible flowers. 

Organic certification begins...

As of May 29th 2023 The Native Tea Farm is fully certified under Bio Gro. There have been many people that continue to help us grow at the Native Tea Farm. The soil testers Farmlands and Hill Laboratories, the organic certifiers, Bio Gro, the Whakatane District Council for our food certification and most importantly our own whānau (family).

One day we hope to open up our Native Tea Farm to the public and share some of our discoveries, the plants and our experiences with others.  


Laureen & Dan

Before the plantations went down the land was bare
  • Whakatane
Manuka plantation

3 years after the seeds were planted

  • Whakatane
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