Friday, 16 May 2014

Tauranga Digs In

“Nature made Tauranga one of the loveliest places in all the world. It was one of God’s gardens. It is our duty to tend it, care for it, and cultivate it.” Mr F. W. Doidge M.P., The Bay of Plenty Times, 15 February 1944

In the winter and spring of 1943 concern about food shortages led to the launch of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign.  Communities were encouraged to get growing.  ‘Make every yard of ground yield, beg, buy or borrow a spade and dig for victory’ (Evening Post July 1943). Tauranga residents were keen to do their bit and in August and September of 1943 the Borough Gardner Mr G. C. Mockler planted a ‘Victory Bed’ as part of the Strand Gardens.

Perhaps inspired by the Council’s public support of the campaign local police planted their own gardens in October.
"An example of the “Dig for Victory” effort is to be seen in a vacant section between Park and     Brown Street where Tauranga members of the police force are, in their spare time, growing     vegetables. They have been hard at it for some time and the results of their efforts are now     starting to bear fruit. A large crop of potatoes is well advanced and it will not be long before     they are on the table, along with peas, which are well above ground." - November 1943, The Bay of Plenty Times
Tauranga’s fortunate growing conditions were often praised and throughout 1944 The Bay of Plenty Times reported plentiful harvests of crops including watermelons and tomatoes. Maori on Matakana Island were reported as growing significant quantities of onions and potatoes in an effort to assist in meeting the country’s needs. At the State vegetable gardens, located in Otumoetai, secondary school children were put to work picking plentiful harvests of peas and beans. In town housewives were encouraged to find ways to ‘dress vegetables up anew’ making them more appealing by using cheese and ring moulds.

The ‘District Horticultural & Beautifying Society’ ran meetings on how to grow vegetables, sharing their knowledge and experience with new gardeners.  However, the Society seemed equally concerned with beautifying Tauranga, encouraging residents to plant flowers and participate in regular flower competitions. This was not out of step with other parts of the country as by 1945 communities were encouraged to ‘brighten the garden with flowers and bulbs for the Boys return”.

The Tauranga Heritage Collection holds a variety of farm and garden tools and agricultural ephemera which was used by local farmers and residents at this time.

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