Rice back in New Zealand

Another feel-good genebank story. Eric Vercoe, now 85, grew rice in the 60s in TePuke near Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand. Alas, the project eventually came to a stop because of flooding problems, but there has been some interest recently in re-establishing the crop, using more modern technology, but the same variety. Called TePuke (gold), this had been developed in the area over 12 years from an original introduction from Japan. It grew very well, had good cooking quality and very good taste. Unfortunately, it was no longer anywhere to be found in New Zealand. So Mr Vercoe asked the IRRI genebank, where it turned out that a deposit of the variety had been made in 1965. He received seeds last summer, and rice is again being grown in the most southerly location for the crop that our friends at IRRI know of.

14 Replies to “Rice back in New Zealand”

  1. This is great – I come from the area between Tauranga and Te Puke but am not old enough to remember rice growing! Im from the Ngaiterangi Iwi and am really interested in learning more about this and hopefully coming to see some rice growing next time I go back to New Zealand. Great that Te Puke had been conserved!

  2. l own land in waikato an my farm gets quite wet so l happen to be thinking rice might be a great cash crop to grow in new zealand now because the asian community is growing in this country an rice is a big part of their diet plus most other nationailtys also eat rice as well going by what l read it sounds like it grows well in bay of plenty so l reckon it would be winner for some one to get into we may already have the right machinery to help us grow it as well l am also interested in learning a little bit more about this

      1. Hi Abed and Andrew, I am researching plant-microbe interactions in rice and I would particularly like to use NZ-derived rice seed in my experiments. It’s not readily available here; if you could help or would like to talk about rice production in NZ then please contact me. Cheers, Caroline

    1. Hi Andrew, we dairy farm at Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains. It is heavy marine clay. We hump and hollow paddocks to drain them as water will only run off , it will not drain through. My Grandfather half joked this place should have been a bloody padifield because of how wet in spring it is. Maybe he was right.
      One main reason for looking at rice for a crop would be to stop nutrient run off into the waterways and into the Piako river. If we could use our effluent spreader in winter / spring to fertilize rice we could grow a crop for Humans or stock and solve nutrient problems in the Piako and Firth of Thames. They undersow it in some countries so that would suit our style . Harvesting is mechanical as well or cows teeth would be simple.
      What have you learned to date? Have you grown any yet?
      Regards Mike Speedy 0272901879

  3. hello do you make enought rice for people to buy .would love to buy some for my family
    look forward to hearing from you

  4. Hi everyone. I am also interested in trying to grow rice here in NZ. If anyone has any idea of how I can get hold of some TePuke Gold rice seed, please let me know as it would be great to try to grow some. We need to protect this wonderful seed :) Thanks

    1. Hi Tony,
      Am wondering if you got hold of any Te Puke Gold seed. Am interested in trying to grow a small patch in Auckland of for our own use.

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