OANZ would like to acknowledge the passing of Iwi Puihi Tipene, founding member and chairperson of Te Waka Kai Ora (Māori Organics Aotearoa), and instigator of Hua Parakore, a verification system for mahinga kai (food and product production), based on Māori values. Percy Tipene, who was of Ngati Hine descent, was also a founding member of Organics Aotearoa New Zealand, and a long time advocate of the organic sector, who believed in a united approach to collective issues. He is a past OANZ deputy chair.
He died aged 64 and his funeral was on January 25.
Those who knew him will remember him for his guiding nature, his enormous sense of humour and his formidable presence. Percy had a colourful background, based on kaupapa Māori, and was steeped in ways in which the whenua will always come first. He was involved for many years in the primary sector, exporting live kune kune pigs to America, Canada and Kiribati. He worked as an auditor, advisor and technician to MAF and had insightful all round knowledge of primary Industries. His energy was dedicated to the Rongoā Māori (traditional healing) space and he insisted that rongoā is our kai, kai is our rongoā.
Percy Tipene was a visionary in the setting up, in 2011, of Hua Parakore, the world's first indigenous organic verification system. Hua Parakore requires growers to adhere to standard organic farming practices (free from genetic modification, nanotechnology, chemicals and pesticides), but also to produce kai in a way that is congruent with a Māori worldview and cultural practices. The system has been taken up by approximately 30 producers from small vegetable growers to one of New Zealand’s biggest organic yogurt producers, BioFarm.
Percy saw farming as a sacred cultural practice and Hua Parakore producers need to be able to answer questions such as "How do you ensure that your mahinga kai enhances the tino rangatiratanga and food security of your whānau, hapū, iwi and wider community?" and "How do you use natural cycles and tohu to guide your tikanga in your maihinga kai?"
We remain grateful that Percy shared his life with us, imparted wisdom to our sector, and encouraged us to challenge further the ways in which our common goals should prevail. Percy respected that in the organic sector, through rangatiratanga ( self-determination) our individual/group needs differ and are important, but through kotahitanga, (collective unity) we must move forward together.
Ahakoa he tini ngā whetu ki te rangi, he nui hoki ki te whenua, e Percy, ko koe tētahi
Although there are many stars in the sky , there are many too, on the whenua; you were one of them.