Potatoes, purple - Taewa/Riwai

Purple potatoes / Taewa/Riwai were a staple food crop of the Maori.

Taewa refers to the collection of varieties of Solanum tuberosum cultivated by the Māori for over 200 years. There are many varieties of purple potatoes; these include Tūtaekurī (also known as Urenika), Makoikoi, Moe Moe, Raupī, Te Māori, Karuparerā and Huakaroro – all have quite different appearances.

What to look for

Choose even-sized potatoes that are free of blemishes. Their unusual appearance sets them apart from standard potatoes. Different varieties vary markedly in size, skin and flesh colour. Skin colour and size are also dependent on growing conditions, soil type and the weather. They usually have a purple/black skin, with deep-set eyes that are either purple or white. The flesh is waxy and coloured rich yellow, white, or purple. Like standard potatoes, flesh type ranges from waxy to floury-textured, however, most varieties tend to be waxy.


Limited quantities, with the best supply in the summer months.


Purple potatoes do not need refrigeration, and are best stored in a cool, dark, dry place. They are best eaten within ten days of harvest.

How to prepare

Purple potatoes boil and steam well and have a sweet, nutty flavour and smooth texture. The skin is very tender so peeling is unnecessary, and because of their irregular shape, difficult.

Ways to eat

Purple potatoes can be eaten in the same way as other potatoes. However, they 'crush' rather than mash.

Cooking methods

Bake, boil, roast, steam.


Like potatoes, purple potatoes (taewa - riwai) are a good source of carbohydrate and for this reason provide energy and keep you full for longer.  They are also a good source of vitamin C and contain dietary fibre and potassium at dietary significant levels.  The coloured skin and flesh varieties contain higher levels of phytonutrients.

Tips for retailing

Because of their different taste and appearance, it is best not to compare them directly with other potatoes. Display them separately. Experiment with them in order to give first hand advice on preparation and recipes. Store like other potatoes.



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