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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Reflections on the International Agricultural Conference 2023

Check out the Reflections on Agriculture as a Cultural Impulse. Interesting to take note of these reflections as we move into preparing for the 100 Year Anniversary which is next year!

See more videos and more reflections on the Section for Agriculture site here

Biodynamics Conference 2023

What a fabulous weekend! Three days of learning, inspiration and connection 🙂

Here’s what one attendee said ->

“It was incredible to be able to connect with everyone! In the beginning everyone was basically strangers, and by the end I knew so many people! The food was fab and the range of speakers was great. Also loved to get some of the older BD magazines”

Pre-Conference Introductory Workshop

The Pre-Conference Introductory Workshop was the first (unofficial) day of this year’s Biodynamics Conference and it was hosted by Joanne and Greg Turner at Woodhouse Farm Organics.

Rachel Pomeroy and Katrina Wolff were our tutors for the day, and we started with Rachel taking us through a bit of the background of Steiner’s the Agriculture Course. Katrina then takes us through the preparations.

A great overview for anyone new to biodynamics!

We then got the group outside to start building the biodynamic compost! You can see everyone standing around the work of art that was created 🙂

If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you can check out a few short snippets of the wisdom and inspiration that Rachel and Katrina shared at this workshop.

Conference Day One

After a productive Pre-Conference Workshop – it was time to dive into the Biodynamics Conference proper. On Saturday we heard from speakers; Gary Williams, Dieter Proebst, Kaitlyn Lamb, Peter Bacchus and Andrew Criglington.

Attendees were particularly inspired by Kaitlyn, our youngest speaker who shared her story and journey with composting and biodynamics. Kaitlyn became interested after being introduced via Katrina’s social media – Blue Borage.

Charlie was the last speaker of the day and he surprised us by doing a short interview with Rachel Pomeroy! Giving us a little laster of what his podcast – The Regenerative Journey – is like.

“Loved Charlie Arnott, Kaitlyn and the homeopathic speakers.”

Conference Day Two

The final day started with some yoga and meditation for those who wanted to join, then we got straight back into it! Charlie took Sunday’s first session on ‘Why Regenerative Agriculture Matters – Lessons from my Farming Journey’.

Monique Macfarlane took us through her inspiring journey and ‘The grounding perspective of the interconnectedness of everything’. And last, but certainly not least, was Cathy Tait-Jamieson with a poignant story about her journey with BioFarm and learnings from incorporating the philosophy of Hua Parakore.

Sunday wrapped up with some group collaboration and brainstorming. We gathered in our regional groups to talk about the best ways to connect and work together. Some great ideas came out of this session!

If you weren’t at conference but have some ideas – please feel free to fire them through to Laura Especially as we have the 100 year anniversary coming up next year…

Attendee feedback

“Hearing the younger members giving talks, bringing up the real needs and renewal of Biodynamics. The conversation night was such a brilliant idea, an amazing evening!”

“The connections I made! All the people I was able to talk to! Such great people!”

“Very good and interesting presentations.”

Video Snippets from Katrina and Rachel at the Pre-Conference Workshop

BDNZ Council – We need your help!

Many of our Council Members this year are finishing their three-year tenure. We’re looking for a few more nominations to join the Biodynamics New Zealand Council.

At this pivotal time, don’t miss your opportunity to steer the biodynamics movement in Aotearoa.

And with the 100 Year Anniversary of Steiner’s lectures coming up next year – there’s lots to get involved in and leave your mark.

What’s involved with being in the Biodynamics New Zealand Council?

Being a BDNZ Council member is the role of governance of the Association. The council guide the vision, strategy and decisions of the Association.

This involves discussing and making decisions on issues affecting the Association. The operations manager manages the staff and the everyday operations. The Council provide support and guidance where necessary.
Being a Council member involves attending monthly online meetings which take a couple of hours, which are usually held at 6:00 on Wednesday.

Here’s what our current Council members have said about their time contributing to Biodynamics New Zealand.

For me it’s been getting to know people better, and to feel part of an association I believe in and care about. I came on wanting to represent home gardeners, and do a little more for newer members who are at the beginning of their journey with biodynamics. I was curious about whether it would be possible to reach out to other organisations like the education sector, the business community, and a range of anthroposophical groups.

It’s been a fascinating three years, and I truly value the time I’ve spent with my colleagues, people who are now more like friends.

I wholeheartedly encourage other members to take their turn on the council for the association. We need everyone’s interests to be represented, and because as a group we’re such a diverse bunch of people, it’ll be a different looking council with each newcomer who steps up to be of service.

I thank you in advance for your dedication to biodynamics in New Zealand alongside all that you do in your local community.

-> Katrina Wolff

Highlights for me have been the sense of camarderie, commitment, and respect that has been built between us all on Council, as we strove to forge a new positive focus and strategy for BDNZ through extremely challenging situations over the past 2 ½ years.

There have been some truly difficult decisions that needed to be made, yet we found the courage to support each other, and step forward together as a real team with vast amounts of humour, and goodwill, oiling the process.

There is no doubt that the hundreds of hours of volunteered time, we shouldered without having a secretary or manager, has been well utilised. 

This has built a good strong platform for the new Council members to be able to focus now just on Governance, while moving into the second stage of the Strategic plan with a wonderful Operational management team onboard.

-> Christine Moginie

We are a diverse group of individuals in different areas, to help shape what you would like, get on board, it has not been “hard work” rather getting things done and challenging but rewarding… To have an association we need a solid council. I’m really looking forward to working with others. 

-> Mark Longworth

How to nominate someone:

For nominations to be accepted, please submit: 

  • A signed statement of nomination from two financial members of the Association, one nominator and one being Seconder.
  • A signed statement of acceptance from the nominee.
  • Email this nomination and signed acceptance to Bryony –

Those nominated or nominating should also submit:

  • A 250 word statement for publication by the nominee or nominator of as to the nominated’s background history, including any strategic experience with a national organisation and/or governance strength, the skillsets they can offer and a note of their aspirations for their term in office. *This statement shall not contain untrue or defamatory material and will be shortened if it exceeds 250 words.
  • A photograph of the nominee for publication if the candidate so wishes.

2023 Conference Sessions 🦋 – Regenerative Practices for Land and Water

“We Need Transformation” when it comes to our relationship with water.

This is the first topic that will be tackled at this year’s 2023 Biodynamics Conference – Biodynamics and You, by the incredible Gary Williams.

Join Gary for the very first Conference Session on Saturday morning (20th of May) – Regenerative Practices for Land and Water

In his session, Gary will explore the links between land and water, through the water cycle, and the differing relationships of diverse regenerating farming and monocultural industrial food growing.  The underlying theme will be the cultural worldview that conditions our relationships to, and impacts on, both waterways and food growing. 

Gary’s philosophy is that we need to work in harmony with land and water, not dominate it as is the general agricultural practice. 

The health of our rivers and water quality will be a very important topic for us to tackle in the next few years. Hear a water engineer’s and biodynamic farmer’s point of view that we need to “work with nature rather than against it”. 

A few years ago – Gary presented at the New Frontiers Summit – you can read a write up of that talk here.

For those who are particularly interested in this topic. Here’s a bit more background on Gary’s conference session.

The following is a paragraph in an excerpt from an international scientific article Gary was a contributing author to.  

The article contrasted a wholistic nature-based of matauranga Maori approach to water and waterways with the dominance and control approach of the western European mindset. 

“Anthropogenic assertions of dominance over nature in the river management arena have been echoed in intensive approaches to industrial agricultural practices in Aotearoa New Zealand, with their dependence upon high energy and high chemical use. There is little prospect to avoid an impending crisis, unless sustainable approaches to agriculture production are incorporated within integrated water resource management plans [76]. As of yet, limited uptake of regenerative approaches to rewilding rivers parallels few (but important) small-scale approaches to regenerative agriculture—practices that work with nature, rather than against it.” 

Brierley, G.; Fuller, I.; Williams, G.; Hikuroa, D.; Tilley, A. Re-Imagining Wild Rivers in Aotearoa New Zealand. Land 2022, 11, 1272.

For more info about Gary Williams and what he gets up to on his land in Otaki – check out his website here.

Pre-Conference Introductory Workshop

Biodynamics Conference 2023 – SPEAKERS

Biodynamics Conference 2023 – PROGRAMME

Biodynamics New Zealand Conference 2023

South Island Workshops with Su Hoskin, Peter & Gill Bacchus

Hands on and practical workshops in either Hawea (Wanaka) or Takaka (Golden Bay).

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