Traditional Māori Agriculture and Biodynamics

By Tyne-Marie Nelson

In 2015, Tyne-Marie Nelson undertook a research project to identify resonances between biodynamic farming and traditional Māori methods of agriculture. The project was supported by Taruna College and funded by Te Kete Ora Trust. Sections of that work are reprinted by permission here.

In the foreword to her full research paper, Tyne explains her motivations for the project:

During my time studying the Certificate of Applied Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture at Taruna, I was simultaneously reconnecting back to my whenua (after being away from home for some time) and becoming familiar with my whakapapa. Knowing who you are, and where you come from, is of utmost importance in Māori culture, and it brings its own reward – a strong sense of identity and belonging.

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Farm Identity

Harvest Magazine Article – Spring 2018

Biodynamic farmers frequently talk about the need to consider the farm as an individuality or organism – but why is this important, and what does it mean? In a series of articles, this issue of Harvests explores that concept from multiple perspectives.

Here, long-time biodynamic practitioner and guide Peter Bacchus explores the original foundations underpinning the concept of farm as organism.

Ninety-four years ago, biodynamic agriculture was born at a conference in what is now northeastern Germany. It is now 96 years since the first biodynamic preparation was made and demonstrated by Dr Rudolf Steiner. When the first biodynamic course was given, it was a series of lectures given to mostly farmers and was called Lectures for the spiritual renewal of agriculture.

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Farming Empathy

Harvest Magazine Article – Spring 2018

Dairy farmer Laura Beck describes how farm individuality arises out of a farmer’s integration with her animals, land and community.

I’ve been playing with the idea of what farm individuality means for a few years now and letting the idea slowly evolve in my head and my senses.

When I first started this farm almost five years ago, I was whirring with the different, varied and many needs to get the farm and the business up and running. I didn’t give myself much space to sit and be present in the farm. But, slowly over the years, the daily rhythm has crept into the pulse of my body and there are times that I can see things in a new, fresh way. These times happen mostly when I am entirely present with the cows that live on the farm.

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Protected: Cosmic and Earthly Impulses Lecture Pack

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Living with the Seasons

We’re very excited to introduce Glen Atkinson’s (PhD) latest educational offering. Over three online workshops, Glen will be shedding light on plant growth and the seasons through Rudolf Steiner’s lens and the unique worldview of biodynamics. 

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Summer Solstice and Planting Ideas

Summer Solstice is approaching (it’s next Wednesday the 22nd of Dec) and it’s a lovely time of the year to slow down and contemplate our connection within nature and it’s rhythms.

If you planted your garlic around the Winter Solstice – it’s now time to lift the garlic! 

I chatted to Christine Moginie one of the Biodynamic Association Council Members about her thoughts, contemplations and suggestions for this upcoming Summer Solstice celebration.

Create a Spiral in Nature

Whether you live by the beach, or near a bush or even just a park – Christine suggests creating a spiral out of leaves, petals or branches or marked in the sand and walking the spiral slowly and contemplatively while the sun is rising on the longest day of the year. (You can either get up earlier than the sunrise to make the spiral or set it up the night before).

Over the next week, you might like to collect flowers and petals to use for your nature spiral. You can use these to create the spiral in the first place and it also might be nice to sprinkle the petals as you walk the spiral, Christine sees this as a way to acknowledge the beings that walk with us always on this journey of life (seen and unseen).

There’s no hard and fast rules for a specific prep to apply at this time of year, but for the home gardener, Christine suggests using a cow pat pit (CPP) or BD501 Horn Silica to balance and strength the connection between earth and light.


With the light and warmth energies at it’s highest at this time of the year, Christine suggests contemplating the cosmic forces and imagining that the cosmic energy are drawing us up into the highest aspect of ourselves.

In contrast to the Winter Solstice which is calling in the earthly forces and drawing us downwards.

With the days being longer, our energy levels are naturally higher than in winter, you may want to think about how you’re going to use the extra energy and day light at this time of year. Do you want to spend more time and connect more deeply with family and friends? Or do you feel like it’s time to rest, or to focus on introspection?

Full Moon and Planting Schedule

We also have the full moon happening on Sunday the 19th and the moon is in opposition with Saturn next Thursday so here’s a suggestion of how to schedule getting some new seeds going and into the garden next week.

Today/Friday – Soak seeds (approximately three days before the full moon).

Saturday or Sunday – Plant seeds in seedling tray – Christine recommends Saturday as it’s a root day. Around the full moon with it still in descending phase.

Next Thursday – Plant seedlings into the ground (Moon in opposition to Saturn) – moon has started to ascend so hopefully will draw energy up into producing leaves!

Christine recommends trying out basil, coriander or parsley

Festivals Recording from Cosmic and Earthly Impulses Workshop

If you’re feeling inspired about celebration, festivals and connection, we have something very special for you.

At the recent Cosmic and Earthly Impulses workshop we recorded Ineke Mulder speaking on “Renewing the Festivals of a Biodynamic Farm”

Ineke has generously donated this to the Biodynamic Association and as a member, you can purchase the audio of the lecture for just $10. Your contribution will go towards more online Biodynamic Education 🙌🏻

Listen to it while sowing your seedings into the ground next Thursday!

Autumn Equinox National Stir

Join in as NZ growers unite for Autumn Equinox celebrations, this Friday evening, 19th March as it is the perfect time to stir and apply preparation 500 and bring balancing energy to the soils and world. We asked three Biodynamic educators, Rachel Pomeroy, Su Hoskin and Rand Carter for a brief commentary on what is occurring this Autumn Equinox, and what we can do biodynamically, to help the positive forces of our gardens, farms and our spirits grow.

In Aotearoa, we find ourselves called return our intentions to papatuanuku, earth and the cosmos above and in turn breath much needed balance and grounding into our wairua, spirit. To perhaps sit this Friday, as we stir in aroha and gratitude, and celebration of seasons change into Autumn and the descent into the time of earth forces and energy.

As Rand Carter in the Northern Hemisphere writes “In order to fashionably welcome Spring, on March 19, we will spray BD #500. On March 20, we will all spray BD #501. The Merry Prepstirs desire is to promote the visual process of the biodynamic sequential spray from simply ‘your personal farm/garden’ into a global sequential spray. Imagine the boundaries of this spray day to reach from coast to coast and from continent to continent.

Su: Autumn Equinox is perfect timing for spreading the biodynamic field preparation horn manure or Preparation 500.

The descending Moon will be in the earth sign of Capricorn from Thursday 19th March until just before 5.00pm Saturday 21st March. Utilise the drawing down phase of the afternoon to stir and apply for optimal timing at the change of seasons.

Strange as it may seem, the soil life actually awakens in the fall, to receive the dying plant matter and replenish from the growing season.

The Earth inhales during this time in a rhythmic process, so compost, liquid manures and barrel compost are also of great benefit if applied now to the land.


Rachel Pomeroy, educator and astronomer writes, “At the Autumn Equinox, Tama Nui Te Ra farewells Hine Raumati and moves hastily towards Hine Takurua, in whose home he will linger for the next several months.  But notice how the brilliant winter full moons of the next months all keep company with Hine Raumati, she’s not abandoned.

Although the warmth and light have left the land and the luxuriant growth of plants will slow or cease, below the ground, the life of soil and roots is very active.  To support Te Marama in below ground activity, increasing the Mauri of the soil, add compost and mulch around fruit trees and vines, use CPP and liquid manure around the roots of the winter vegetables and apply the horn manure preparation to all the land.”

Rachel Pomeroy’s photo of the eastern horizon from Atea a Rangi, Napier taken Thursday March 19th


Rand: Though many people spray “after 3pm” this is not the beginning of the cosmic in-breathing time except on specific days and only during specific seasons. For example, in summer, the soil is almost certainly NOT yet cooling nor contracting at 3pm, but in winter, the soil almost certainly will begin to cool by that time of day.We want to spray out 500 when the soil is contracting, which means when the air pressure is switching from negative (expansive) pressure to positive (contracting) pressure. If we spray something out strictly at 3pm, most of it will evaporate. These conditions are extremely local. If you have an overcast day, you can’t rely on a recipe. If you have an unseasonably warm front moving in during the evening, a 500 spray will not be drawn into the soil as it should. Likewise, a cold front moving in at dawn will not help 501 move up and out over a garden. It is far more important to be sensitive to local conditions.

When soil cools, it contracts. When air heats, it expands.

To put it as simply as possible: is the soil cooling off? You can spray 500. Is the soil warming up? You can spray 501. A good general rule is this: are shadows starting to fall across the farm? You can spray 500. Conversely, is light starting to hit the soil? You can spray 501, or about the time the dew begins to dry. This will all be different depending on your altitude or whether you have hills surrounding you (or even trees). Discard dogma. Your local conditions are paramount.


Rand: BD #500 prep contains immense ethereal and astral forces. If you are fortunate to have BD500XP then you have a 20 minute stir, otherwise the standard 1-hour stir.

Su: Horn manure preparation 500 is a manure concentrate. Available for purchase from the BDNZ.
Fresh cow manure buried in cow horns in fertile soil for Autumn and Winter, is transformed into a potent conditioner for soil and plants. Applied in Spring and Autumn. It is a living substance which helps build soil structure, stimulates microbial activity and the formation of humus, greatly improving the absorption and retention of water in the soil.

Used as part of a regular practice, it regulates acidity, stimulates the growth of root systems to greater depths, increases the germination rate of seeds and helps to dissolve hard pans.

Stirring or dynamising the preparation for a full hour is a wonderful activity for a group or family, but can also be achieved by one person.

Rand: BD #501 is Horn Silica or Horn Feldspar (for you with sand in your shoes) requires a 1-hour stir. It is best is to spray it into the air on a windless day from sunrise (not before) to mid-morning – before 8AM with a temperature not above 72. (Stewart Lundy’s & Troy Teets comments on shadows (see above) rings true).


Su: The dynamic interaction between the prep and the water can be done in clean separate small buckets or in a larger container such as a wine barrel, copper tub or plastic drum. Individual buckets can be stirred using your hand or a stick or wooden spoon. A larger vessel will require more effort and therefore a suspended pole is recommended on a tripod over the barrel or attached to a frame / roof beam of an outdoor building.


Su: Water quality is of the essence, rain water, spring water or bore If possible, warmed to blood temperature. This will activate the biology to a greater degree than cold water.

Rand: Enzo Nastati says there “are basically three kinds of water. The water that descends, the water that rises, and the water that flows. What kind will you use for the 500? Spring water. Well water if it is not too deep. When a well is more than 100 meters deep that water is full of darkness.” If you must use municipal water, let it aerate for a day to off-gas the long-lasting disinfectant called Chloramine (chlorine & ammonia).

Su: Barrel compost can be added for the last twenty minutes of the stir. This will then become the carrier for the compost preparations.
It’s a good idea to time yourself, you’ll be surprised how quickly an hour passes during this meditative and stimulating activity.


Su: Use 50g of the horn manure preparation to about 30L water per ha.
Stir from the outside of the container inward and clockwise until all the liquid is surging in one direction and then break the flow to create ‘chaos’ by reversing the stirring action anti clockwise. Opening the surface area of the water allows aeration and other energetic forces to enter. Repeat for whole hour. The water will become silky and ‘elastic’ as the preparation is incorporated into the liquid.

Have more knowledge to add about Autumn equinox? Leave a comment and your experiences or send us an email and we’ll update this article.

Share with us your stir by tagging us on Instagram @biodynamicsnewzealand or Facebook and we’ll share your photos.

Preparations can be purchased from the Biodynamic Association. Simply purchase a membership (digital or full) and head to the online Shop.

Rachel Pomeroy presents at International Biodynamic Conference, Switzerland

Photo: Rachel presenting in the Goetheanum. Slide features Hua Parakore / Te Waka Kai Ora indigenous verification principals. Photo Credit: Adriano Zago

The Annual International Conference of the Biodynamic movement was held last week from the 5th to 8th February 2020 at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland. Well known New Zealand biodynamic practitioner and teacher Rachel Pomeroy was asked to attend and gave three presentations.

Life Sketches are short lectures based on life, practice and projects. Rachel’s lecture discussed the following:

Universal Spirituality
Colonisation of India and New Zealand, in each case, virtually destroyed a complete, intact indigenous knowledge system.  A knowledge system which determined their practical life, from cultivating food, collecting healing plants, to navigating the mighty Pacific Ocean.  Rachel’s experience of biodynamic practice in both countries has helped her to see a universal world spirituality, existing in differing contexts of location, culture and religion. 

During the 3 day workshop, which was designed to deepen understanding and share experiences, Rachel joined with Marcela Vega Toy and Sundeep Kamath and presented the following:

Different spiritualities and biodynamic agriculture / Espiritualidades diferentes y agricultura biodinámica
Marcela Vega Toy & Sundeep Kamath & Rachel Pomeroy (English/Español) (s)
The Maori creation mythology, the sadness of the separation of heaven and earth, and our possibility, through practice of biodynamics, to turn sorrow to joy. The temple of the heavens reflected in the Wharenui, the meeting house, and, further, in the temple of our own body. In the context of these histories, experience “As above, so below”, macrocosm and microcosm and the role of the BD preps in facilitating the ordering forces of the Cosmos to order the life in our farm and garden. Maori astronomy and star-lore will help us understand and remember the ascending and descending periods of the moon and which farming activities to do in each period.  The summer and winter homes of the Sun help us know the seasons of the year, and the ascending and descending moon, and how they are used in timing agricultural practices. The Maori moon calendar, based on moon phases and tides and what can we learn from it. Jessica Hutchings’ characterisation of the six principles of traditional Maori food growing/collecting, and how she incorporated biodynamics into her own garden management. From India, the Navagraha, the nine planets, their plants, their arrangement in the temple in relation to the setting and rising horizons, dying and becoming. Shiva bringing the world into creation helps elucidate the role of planetary processes and BD preps in unfolding life. The circle of 27 Nakshstra star groups, or 12 Rasi (Zodiac constellations), as natural divisions of the 360 degree circuit of sun, moon and planets through the stars.  Sacred grove plantings of the 27 Nakshatra trees. The sacred cow, traditional fertility building recipes and practice, and how biodynamics is incorporated in practice.

A time each day was set aside for an Open Space section during which Rachel lead the following discussion:

The Biodynamic Preparations; their function in relation to Planetary Processes
The Biodynamic Preparations; their function in relation to Planetary Processes.  This is the question she lives with as a star watcher and prep maker.  Rachel shared her experiences and invited conversation with others.

Rachel Pomeroy will be presenting on similar topics at the 2020, 96th Annual Biodynamic New Zealand Conference, to be held in Akaroa, Otauhtahi, Christchurch this June.

Stay tuned for more information, speaker line up and registrations over the coming month.