TRADITIONAL MAORI HANGI
New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people possess a tradition of food and hospitality that is uniquely their own and which boasts flavours found nowhere else in the world. There are few experiences that rival sharing a feast cooked in a traditional Maori hāngī (earth oven), a centuries-old cooking method perfect for feeding a crowd and bringing a community together.
The significance of whenua – or earth – as the giver of all life and a source of all kai (food) is embedded in the Māori culture and, due to the intricate process involved in preparing a hangi, it is more than a means of cooking food; it is a social occasion to be shared with the whanau (family) and friends.
Rotorua, in the central North Island, is a region rich in Maori culture and heritage. The unique geothermal properties of the area also mean local iwi (tribes) have a unique way of cooking hāngī - in natural thermal steam and water. It is here you will find the much-respected Tamaki Maori Village. A visit here is a cultural experience like no other that is set in a magnificent 200-year-old Tawa forest. You can view the geothermal hangi being prepared then be swept up by the Maori storytellers who will share customs, traditions and their unique way of life before indulging in the traditional feast.
Many Maori cultural experiences around New Zealand now include a hangi and it is truly an unforgettable way to interact with Māori culture.
PHOTOS: TARANAKI MAORI VILLAGE - ROTORUA/ James Heremaia