For exercise? Not specifically, that’s a bonus. To connect to the whenua, and to forage for kai.
Nearly every flower, tree, shrub – Joe knows its story, how it sustained his people for hundreds of years before New Zealand was colonised and much Māori cultural history was lost.
“Tracks to me aren’t just tracks, they are cultural heritage,” he says.
“I forage all the tracks from here to Masterton. I have a fair idea of where our unique resources are that our ancestors traditionally gathered.”
Joe’s been cooking for 50 years. During this time, he’s been recalling childhood teachings from his elders, researching, and rediscovering traditional Māori foods and cooking methods.
His goal is to “revive, preserve, and promote” this knowledge which has been lost through the generations.
The 63-year-old knows many of Pōneke’s tracks and trails like the back of his hand.
He knows where to find pikopiko – the young curled shoots of ferns, which when prepared correctly are “a delicacy in the Māori pantry”. He knows where puha grows fresh for his salads. He knows which common plants, also known as weeds, can be utilised for kai, tea, and medicine.
But his local stomping ground is Te Ara Paparārangi track, in Gilberd Bush Reserve, home to community marae, Ngā hau ē whā o paparārangi.
In Newlands, Joe and others from the marae have planted thousands of natives along Te Ara Paparārangi track, which he walks up to four times a month.
“I do cooking presentations, and I forage for all my resources on that track.”
He uses what’s in season, observing the Māori calendar, and is passionate about keeping it sustainable.
“The key is not to bring too much, because you can’t use it all,” says Joe, father of two adult sons.