This community-led initiative is the product of a collaboration between Manurewa High School, Middlemore Foundation and Counties Manukau Health.


Te Maara Kai O Wirihana

(previously named Manurewa Community Farm)

high school students gardening


To produce healthy and nutritious kai in line with sustainable climate change ready principles.



This project has a holistic focus on improving long-term health outcomes for students and their whaanau in the Manurewa community, working with the Kaahui Ako O Manurewa. The community has a population of 82,242 people*.

Manurewa is a community of many opportunities and challenges, and with Manurewa Marae and the Kaahui Ako O Manurewa (community of learning of 7 schools and 5000 students) collectively supporting this initiative, the Maara Kai O Wihihana has a central role to play in community regeneration and to produce fruit and vegetables and develop an urban farm to benefit the community and students.

The overall goal is to develop a whaanau-led social enterprise to support healthy food systems, health and wellbeing, and employment pathways for horticulture, environmental sciences and primary industry and well as fostering social enterprise, business, project management, media and design skills.  

Middlemore Foundation is supporting in terms of funding, project guidance and governance, as well as catalysing collaborators. Middlemore Foundation’s underlying principle is of building whānau capability and agency through this programme.

*according to the latest census

View our Manurewa Community Maara Concept Design.

Planting at Manurewa Garden
Planting at Manurewa Garden

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Planting at Manurewa Garden
Planting at Manurewa Garden

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Vegetables at Manurewa Garden
Vegetables at Manurewa Garden

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Planting at Manurewa Garden
Planting at Manurewa Garden

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planting at the manurewa garden


  • Encourage nutritious, healthy eating

  • Provide a healing space

  • Opportunity for healthy outdoor exercise

  • A place to bring community together

manurewa high school learning about gardening


  • Encourage students to choose employment pathways in horticulture, hospitality, landscape design or climate change.

  • Students and Whaanau planting their own food and learning about growing veges

  • Increase attendance in schools by giving them a positive place to go/learn


The whenua is located next to Manurewa High School and adjacent to Manukau Super Clinic. Counties Manukau District Health Board, who owns the land, has free leased it to the community.

The 1.6 acre paddock, located in the heart of Manurewa, is being transformed into a community and educational urban farm - starting with water tanks needed to harvest rainwater for growing plants.

Plans for the garden include an education garden, a productive market garden, a healing garden, a food forest, a worm farm (which utilises waste from Manukau Super Clinic) and a huge community garden with communal and allotment areas, to provide wholesome and nutritious food to the Manurewa Community.


The whare area will comprise of two 40ft pod buildings to provide a kitchen, eating area, ablution block located close to each other to allow a roof to be built between them for a 50m2 covered area suitable for meetings and classes, a small tool store shed, three large water tanks to collect rainwater.

This large community garden will nurture the community surrounding it, and be based on biodynamic, organic and Mātauranga Māori practices, including rongoa (healing) and traditional Māori planting practices, guided by Maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar.  The vision is to improve the lives, resilience and cohesion of the Manurewa community through this initiative. It will be tended to by students, volunteers and local community groups

Social Enterprise
The farm aims to be self-sustaining in terms of operating costs after the first three years of set up.  The Business Academy from Manurewa High School are developing the business model and will sell vegetables to the school café, the teacher community, the local community and businesses, as well as the Manukau SuperClinic. 

Climate Change
The urban farm regeneration principles that this project aspires to are a system of growing food that rebuilds the ecosystem by increasing biodiversity, enriching the soil, improving watersheds and enhancing ecosystem services.  The Maara Kai supports the capturing of carbon in the soil and aboveground biomass and helps to reverse global trends of atmospheric accumulation.


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The Lion Foundation logo
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kids blowing bubbles


All donations go straight towards changing lives and helping the community to thrive. Your donation makes a difference.