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An 87-year-old YouTuber teaches gardening in Samoan from his Auckland garden

Fa’aleagaina Malo in his garden

Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — Stuff New Zealand is featuring Fa’aleagaina Malo from his Auckland vegetable garden, in the southern suburb of Māngere, making a video. The 87-year-old is explaining, in Samoan, how to grow vegetables under New Zealand conditions.

His 15-year-old granddaughter Ameena is the camera operator, as well as the video editor and official uploader (she does sometimes call on her mum Ruth for technical support). The videos are uploaded to his YouTube channel.

His aim, in making the videos, is to teach other Pasifika living in New Zealand how to produce their own fresh and healthy food. Malo had grown food in Samoa but conditions in New Zealand are vastly different — the soil, the climate, the different pests as well as the range of fertilizer and sprays.

Those differences meant that many in his community, who had grown vegetables in Samoa, stopped gardening when they arrived in New Zealand. They often wanted to, he says, but didn’t know who to ask for help.

And so Malo thought he should pass on some of what he has learned about gardening himself, especially vegetable growing, via social media.

He thought that would be a good way to reach young people: he is concerned they are becoming too distracted by smartphones and technology. “The young ones aren’t that interested in gardening at the moment,” he says.

Even in his family, he admits, his grandchildren are not volunteering to work in the garden, although they will always lend a helping hand if he asks. But he hopes in time it will interest them more and they will be able to watch his videos when it does, “even if it is after I have gone,” he adds. “I certainly hope that one of them will want to carry on with my garden.”

Taro was one of the first crops he grew when he came to New Zealand because, unlike today, there was none around. He was able to source a plant in 1970 and put it in the ground. Today the leaves and tubers are a staple of his garden. “I don’t put any compost on the taro, and they find their own water. They find their own food. It’s the perfect crop.

With the taro leaves he makes one of his favourite dishes, lu’au, or adds mussels and chillies for his own take on palusami. The tubers are best cooked in tin foil in an umu or oven, then covered with coconut cream.

Back in Samoa, in the early days, he says, it was all garden. “That’s in the old days before the Europeans came to Samoa, or the church came into Samoa. That’s what we did, always the garden.”

But young Pasifika growing up in New Zealand today has almost lost that link to the land, he says. “They think getting food is about going to the supermarket or takeaways.”

And so we go back to the reason for his videos. “That’s the idea for my videos: to show that gardening is a good idea, to grow your own food. I want to pass my information on to my people. Because it’s a good thing. You don’t buy vegetables. They may like my idea, and do it too.”

You can visit his You Tube site here:

Read more about Fa’aleagaina Malo at: