Today is the first sunny day after several rainy ones, so we’re stocking up the house with firewood. Brian has shown me how to make firestarters from native New Zealand plants that are readily available.

Native firestarters and kindling, June 2012
The small pieces of wood and firestarters are essential in getting the stove going if it goes out.

Nikau trees in the bush, June 2012
First we approach one of the native palm trees (Nikau) and cut a branch. I'll use a frond to bind the loose twigs of the firestarter together.

Manuka tea tree and a paddock, June 2012
Local tea tree — manuka — is growing around the boundaries of all the paddocks. I'll pull off the dry branches for our firestarters.

Making native firestarters, June 2012
It's easy to break the dead wood off the manuka trees.

Making native firestarters, June 2012
I start folding the twigs and branches together into a length about 20 cm long.

Making native firestarters, June 2012
Taking a palm frond, I wrap it around my little bundle and start tying it together.

Making native firestarters, June 2012
The finished bundle is tight and neat.

Making native firestarters, June 2012
Brian said we could return home after we had filled up two large garbage bags with these firestarters.

I enjoyed making the firestarters (and Aisha liked taking the photos). It felt a bit like I was weaving something beautiful, and to collect and use only spare native materials means I’m creating a sustainable practice in keeping our family warm and fed. Thanks, Brian, for showing us how to do this!