The great outdoors is Kere Pomana’s happy place. Kere has recently completed a NZ Certificate in Horticulture General and a NZ Certificate in Primary Production Skills at EIT and now gets to spend more time in her Tamatea garden which feels like a peaceful retreat.
A big pōhutakawa tree provides shade, there is mānuka, harakeke, kōwhai and taraire and an old bath tub filled with kākā beak. “Some of them I actually saved from drying out and seed sowing,” says 33-year-old Kere.
Of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Rakaipaaka descent, Kere grew up on a farm close to Lake Tutira. She was and still is a real country girl. “In summertime we basically lived at our local river and I think back at that fondly.” After being a stay at home mum for her kids Kaya, 11, and Te Koha, 9, she started feeling like she needed to do something for herself and a future career.
“Being outside surrounded by trees, flowers and animals had always made me happy. Everything just fell into place when I found out that EIT was offering a Horticulture General programme in Maraenui.” After gaining her certificate she completed a Certificate in Primary Industry Skills and has just enrolled in NZ Certificate in Sustainable Primary Production.
All of EIT’s programmes were tailored to Kere’s interests. “I really soaked up the knowledge,” she explains. She particularly enjoyed nursery and Māori Environmental studies.
Field trips organised by EIT gave her an insight of how other people work. Kere kept a veggie growing diary and started to undertake her own study of the Maramataka (Māori lunar calender). “I found out that the kamo kamo fruit starts growing just before the full moon,” says Kere pointing at her own little kamo kamo plantation.
Her tutors acknowledge Kere for her effort and focus, “Kere has been a role model within her class. Her enthusiasm and commitment to her studies has been an inspiration to the other students,” says horticulture programme coordinator Jackie Lynch.
Marion Thomson, horticulture tutor at EIT Maraenui, even nominated Kere for the Rose Society Award in 2018 which Kere then received. “She always was keen to extend her knowledge by reading and asking copious intelligent questions. Her work was impeccable and she always went the extra mile to ensure accuracy and appropriate references.”
Not to mention, Kere volunteered every Friday, planting trees within the revegetation project at Cape Sanctuary. She has planted a couple of thousand mānuka, kānuka, kauri, cabbage trees and whārangi to date. “Not long ago we planted 270 nikau trees on just one day. I dream of seeing my kids one day saying that their mum planted all those trees.”
Her goal is to regenerate a piece of land owned by her family in Nuhaka by planting native trees. “I’m dreaming of a lifestyle block there with a little creek and a lot of birds and insects. Just a place where my kids can experience what I experienced when I was a kid,” says Kere.