Less than 200 years ago the Auckland area had 8,000 hectares of volcanic stonefields, which were intensively cultivated by Māori. The gardens contained earth and stone mounds used as gardening plots with added organic matter. They created a warm, moist microclimate for taro and kūmara, and the natural heat-absorbing properties of rock extended the growing season by a month. These are the Ōtuataua stonefields, at Māngere. The spectacular dry stone walls which criss-cross the area were built 100 years ago by Europeans, to clear the fields of stone and fence the farms. In 2001 the area became a 100-hectare reserve.
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Photograph by Ian Lawlor
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