Meet Toni-Nere Austen. She is a very passionate plant loving māmā of two children, and descends from a family of knowledgeable plant enthusiasts, horticulturists & collectors. Her family has been growing exotic tropical & subtropical plants for well over 50 years, and Toni is part of the next generation absorbing all their years of growing knowledge and incorporating this with modern technology through her business 'Grown n' Steady.' Her plant journey is about giving life, living life, following her dreams & role modelling this to her children, so they too will feel encouraged to follow their dreams.
PICTURED: TONI WEARING THE 'MAURI MAHI, MAURI ORA' TAUPAKI [APRON] IN PUKEPOTO [NAVY]. 📸 TWO COASTS STUDIO
Toni's business 'Grow n' Steady' started in the 2020 lockdown during a time of adversity for Toni and her tamariki, when they decided to move back home to Kaitaia to be surrounded by whānau. During this time Toni embarked on what she describes as her "plant healing journey." Slow & steady was her mantra, which inevitably evolved into her brand name 'Grow n’ Steady'. With gentle guidance from her tūpuna, she enrolled in a horticulture class & gained a Certificate in Horticulture. From there she started propagating plants and selling them online. She now provides subtropical plants to many plant enthusiasts around the motu, and has enjoyed meeting other like-minded plant lovers who are also on their own healing journey.
PICTURED: TONI WITH HER TWO TAMARIKI, AUSTEN & ALARIS 📸 TWO COASTS STUDIO
Toni's very enthusiastic, plant passionate uncle created the evolving tropical ngahere (jungle) of 50 years from which Toni grows the majority of her plants. He has a wealth of knowledge, but says “you never stop learning”. He inspires her to preserve what he started, as the gardens have become somewhat of a whānau plant legacy.
The Philodendron 'Austentatious' is a hybridised plant bred by Toni's late uncle 15 years ago, and has been stably growing in their family garden ever since. Her uncle was very well known for rising earlier than the birds or staying up later than the bees to pollinate plants. Because of his dedication and commitment, he managed to successfully breed a few different hybrids of plants over his years. The Philodendron 'Austentatious' is Provisional PVR Protected*, and the name acknowledges Toni's late uncle and the size of its beautiful foliage.
PICTURED: GEORGE AUSTEN (TONI'S UNCLE WHO CREATED THE GARDENS) AMONG THE BANANA TREES
PICTURED: GEORGE AUSTEN AND LAURIE AUSTEN (TONI'S DAD)
PICTURED: TONI HOLDING A PHILODENDRON 'AUSTENTATIOUS'
Mauri mahi, mauri ora
When asked what the whakataukī "mauri mahi, mauri ora" means to her personally, Toni responded "Ultimately, life is for living and striving for better outcomes for us and future generations. Life is forever changing and I try my best to be a great role model for my children, so they too will know that life is for living! I didn't get here by just working hard, I also got here by wairuatanga."
PICTURED: TONI WEARING THE 'MAURI MAHI, MAURI ORA' TAUPAKI [APRON] IN KŌHATU [STONE]. 📸 TWO COASTS STUDIO
PICTURED: TONI WEARING THE 'MAURI MAHI, MAURI ORA' TAUPAKI [APRON] IN MĀMANGU [INK BLACK]. 📸 TWO COASTS STUDIO
* 'Plant variety rights (PVRs) give you the exclusive right to produce for sale and sell propagating material of a new plant variety.'
'Mauri mahi, mauri ora' aprons by Maimoa Creative, releasing April 20th 2022.