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Matariki Inspiration

Friday 28th June marks Matariki in New Zealand. In Maori culture, Matariki is the Pleiades star cluster, and a celebrating of its first rising, marking the beginning of the year in the Maori lunar calendar.

Like all cultures, food is an essential component of this new year, with many dishes passed down through many generations. Four of the stars in the Matariki constellation are connected to food:


• Tupuānuku – the star related to food in the ground;

• Tupuārangi – food which comes from the sky and trees;

• Waitī – food from rivers, streams and lakes; and

• Waitā – food from the sea.


Matariki is the perfect time to showcase our native kai, as menu specials or for a themed event. Seafood, meats and fresh, seasonal produce are a staple in Matariki food. While you may not have the space (or maybe the muscle!) to dig your own hāngī, there are plenty of ways to celebrate this traditional moment in the kitchen.


Fresh kaimoana – seafood – is one of New Zealand’s greatest treasures. Fish, cockles, mussels, kina and pāua all take centre stage at this time of year. If you’ve never cooked kina before, you’re in for a treat; this gastronomic delight is representative of our coastal landscapes that have defined the relationship between Māori and the ocean for centuries.


Usually eaten raw as sashimi, kina can be smoked, or used to add depth and flavour to a number of sauces. Add to a pasta or spaghetti vongole to make a rich sauce with lemon

and chilli, serve raw on sushi rice with a little guacamole, or blitz with citrus, a little cream

cheese and some herbs to make a delicious dip.


Don’t be afraid to mix things up; kūmara and mussel fritters make an easy share plate, as does a smoky lamb leg with mussel salsa. For an impressive platter, serve up a delicious surf n’ turf bursting with ribs, meats, seafood and kūmara chips on kawakawa leaves.


One of the most well-known Matariki dishes is the boil up, which holds cultural significance as a sharing dish representing warmth and togetherness. Both meat and seafood boil ups are common, the most important factor being the concept of sharing.


To make a meaty boil up, pork, cabbage, watercress, kumara and potatoes are boiled, then simmered in a pot of water with plenty of earthy herbs like sage, thyme and parsley

for a couple of hours. If you can access traditional leaves like puha, stick it all in the pot for extra flavour. Serve your boil up with doughboys fresh from the oven for some real winter warmth.


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