Traditional Māori food gathering (2022)

Before the arrival of metal tools and the gun, Māori used natural resources to make tools for hunting, fishing, eeling, and cultivating crops.

Tools included:

  • Various types of wood were used for making waka kererū (wood pigeon snares), paepae kiore (rat snares), and gardening tools.
  • Aka (supplejack) was used to make hīnaki

    hīnakieel pots
    and tāruke (crayfish pots).
  • The bark of trees such as mānuka formed part of snares.
  • Harakeke

    Harakekeflax
    was used for bindings, and for ropes and cord for fishing lines and nets.
  • Bird and whale bones were made into matau

    mataufishhooks
    and spear points.

Homage was paid to the various gods and goddesses before, during, and after making tools, and during the food-gathering processes. Māori also adhered strongly to the maramataka

maramatakaMāori seasonal calendar
Māori, which they used as a guide for times to fish, go eeling, hunt, and plant.

Change and revival

When metal tools and the gun arrived, many traditional food-gathering methods and tools changed. However, there has been a major revival of traditional food-gathering methods over the past 30 or so years, and many books have been written about these methods.

Video:Tales from Te Papa– ‘Te Takinga Pataka’ (a food storage house)

Pōhā (bull kelp bags)

The outer skin of rimurapa (bull kelp) is airtight. Air is trapped in the honeycomb-like structure inside each blade. Food preserved inside a pōhā can be kept safely for up to two or three years.

Traditional pōhā (bull kelp bags) are still used today by South Island Māori to preserve many types of food, and to transport preserved food from one area to another.

Making pōhā to store muttonbirds

Each year, the Ngāi Tahuiwiof the South Island harvest tītī

tītīmuttonbirds
and store them in traditional pōhā.

  1. In January or February, therimurapablades are gathered, cut to the right length, and hollowed out.
  2. In March, the pōhā hau (hollowed-out blades) are inflated and placed outside to soften in the night dew.
  3. The pōhā are rolled up, ready to be taken to the Tītī Islands for the start of the muttonbird season in April.

To prepare and store the tītī, Ngāi Tahu:

  1. wrap the birds in pouaka (fescue grass)
  2. leave them in a trench for a few days
  3. soak them in an ipu (wooden bowl) in water heated by hot stones until the fat has seeped out and lies at the bottom
  4. place the birds in pōhā and cover them with their own fat
  5. plug the top of the pōhā with a wooden plug
  6. protect the outside of the pōhā with kiri tōtara (tōtara bark)
  7. place the whole pōhā in a flax kete

    ketebag
    and bind it.

The finished pōhā has a distinctive shape designed to be easily thrown and caught – there are no beaches on which to land supplies on the Tītī Islands. Pōhā are often made to hold up to 110 birds, although the average size holds 40 to 50.

Other uses

  • Pōhā were used to carry fresh water.
  • Pōhā mata (fresh kelp bags that have not been dried) were used to enclose food as it cooked in an umu (earth oven).
  • Pōhā were used in the propagation of seafood – a process called whakawhitikaimoana. Live seafood (shellfish, starfish, and pāua) would be put in pōhā, taken to a new area, and placed in the sea. Special slits in the sides of the pōhā would open up, letting the seafood escape to seed the new area and attract others of its species.
  • There are stories of Ngāi Tahu using pōhā for surfing, long before the arrival of surfboards! They would take two pōhā, blow them up tight, tie them together, then put the string over their necks and a pōhā under each arm. They could paddle out to sea and come back in over the breakers like a bird. This sport was called kauai or kaukau.
  • Pōhā were also used to protect the body when gathering seafood on the open coast. They were worn over the torso or other limbs like wetsuits, or made into sandals to be worn on the rocks while fishing or gathering seafood.

An ancient name

Pōhā is an ancient Polynesian word that is still used throughout the Pacific. In Tonga, the word ‘puha’ means a container, carton, box, or other means of storage. In Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand’s South Island), this word gradually became pōhā.

Video:Tales from Te Papa– ‘A Seaweed Pantry’

Paepae kiore (rat snare)

Māori caught kiore

kioreMāori rat, Mus exulans
(Māori rat orMus exulans) by the setting of paepae kiore (rat snares). The snares are made from mānuka bark, aka pirita (supplejack), and muka (flax fibre). They were baited with kūmara (sweet potato) and set on a kiore track. When a kiore entered the opening of the paepae kiore to eat the bait, its head would be caught in a snare that tightened around its neck, and its foot would trigger a spring that jerked its head up and strangled it.

When many kiore had been caught, they were skinned, cooked, and preserved in their own fat in taha huahua (gourds) until needed. The kiore were usually in good condition for catching and eating during late autumn and winter, and were a high-protein delicacy.

(Video) Cooking a Traditional Māori Hāngi For Xmas With Tame Iti

Waka kererū (pigeon snare)

Traditional Māori food gathering (10)

Caption

Waka kererū (pigeon trough, snare), 19th century, North Island, maker unknown. Te Papa (ME001973)

Kererū and tūī were often snared after feeding on the berries of the maire, uwha, houhou, miro, and mako trees. They would become thirsty and head for the nearest water, where a waka kererū, wai tuhi, or wai taeke (various kinds of pigeon snares) was waiting.

Waka kererū were made out of blocks of wood, usually tōtara, which were carved out.A pair of mānuka sticks was placed at each end of the wood blocks, and harakeke (flax) snares suspended between the sticks. The snares were then placed in the trees, ready for thirsty kererū. A kererū would go to the waka kererū to drink, place its head through one of the flax loops, and, as it lowered its head, the noose would tighten, ensnaring the bird. Kererū would then be cooked and preserved in their own fat in taha huahua (gourds).

During snaring season, fowlers would go out at dawn, check the snares, remove any captured birds, and reset the snares again. If kererū were plentiful, this would be done twice a day.

Waka kererū (pigeon trough, snare), 19th century, North Island, maker unknown. Te Papa (ME001973)

Tāruke (crayfish pot)

Traditional Māori food gathering (11)

Caption

Tāruke (crayfish pot), 2000, by John Puketapu. Te Papa (ME022091)

John Phillip Puketapu, a kaumātua (elder) from Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, made this tāruke (crayfish pot) for Te Papa.

John was a teenager during the Depression (1929–39). As they had so little money, John’s parents and extended family used traditional Māori ways of gathering food. John says tāruke were used to catch many varieties of seafood besides crayfish, such as conga eels and fish.

This tāruke is made from the pakiaka (aerial root) of the kiekie, which is found growing in trees in the bush, and aka pirita (supplejack). Once John had enough pakiaka, they were boiled in an oil drum for an hour to loosen their thick bark. The bark was then easily removed by being pulled through a forked stick. The pakiaka were mostly used for the bindings of the tāruke and needed to be kept in water to stay flexible. However, the aka pirita was kept dry.

Tāruke (crayfish pot), 2000, by John Puketapu. Te Papa (ME022091)

(Video) Planting the Seed - Traditional Food Project Gathering

(Video) Tuia - Mahinga Kai Customary Food Gathering

FAQs

What is the Māori tradition regarding food? ›

Along with root vegetables, they also introduced Kiore (the Polynesian rat) and Kurī (the Polynesian dog), both valuable sources of meat. Māori hunted a wide range of birds (such as mutton birds and moa), collected seafood and gathered native ferns, vines, palms, fungi, berries, fruit and seeds.

Why is food important in Māori culture? ›

In Māori and Pacific cultures, the sharing of food in social gatherings was a symbol of caring and love which could lead to obesity and other health problems. "If food is used a lot in that way then maybe when we arrive at a position of food over-supply that those cultures tend to end up over-consuming more.

How did Māori preserve their food? ›

Māori preserved large quantities of food, to save for leaner times or to trade with other tribes. Food could be dried in embers or, in the geothermal Rotorua area, spread on hot rocks. Foods commonly dried included kūmara, shellfish (such as pipi) and fish (such as shark and eels).

Where did the Maori people store their food? ›

Storing food

Pātaka – small, raised buildings, some elaborately carved – were used to store food for ceremonial events and winter use. Storage pits, sterilised by fire and sealed against vermin, were also used to hold some foods, such as kūmara.

What is Māori customary food gathering? ›

“Customary food gathering” means the traditional rights confirmed by the Treaty of Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992, being the taking of fish, aquatic life, or seaweed or managing of fisheries resources, for a purpose authorised by Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki, including koha, to the ...

Why the sharing of food is important within the context of tikanga Māori? ›

In a teaching and learning context, it is common for Māori to share food as a means of welcoming people, celebrating success, or building rapport. However, another important function of food is to remove tapu so it needs to be handled carefully around things that are considered to be tapu.

What is a traditional Māori feast? ›

Traditional feasts

tā moko – the tattooing of a young person of rank. marriage. tangihanga (funerals) ngahuru, the time of the kūmara harvest in March. the appearance of Matariki (the Pleiades) or Puanga (Rigel) in the sky – the Māori New Year.

What are some Māori values? ›

We have distilled five key values that underpin Māori leadership.
  • Whakaiti - humility. Whakaiti is a key term in Māori leadership. ...
  • Ko tau rourou and manaakitanga - altruism. ...
  • Whanaungatanga - others. ...
  • Tāria te wā and kaitiakitanga - long-term thinking, guardianship. ...
  • Tikanga Māori - cultural authenticity.
7 Jan 2019

Why is tikanga important to the Māori? ›

Tikanga is generally taken to mean the Māori way of doing things, and can apply to business as well as our everyday life. There is a significant link between Tikanga and the justice system and, therefore, it is imperative that law firms and their staff are familiar with Māori traditions, practices and values.

What did Māori eat before settlers? ›

Pre-European Maori food was gathered from bush, sea, rivers and lakes. Some root crops were cultivated. Birds, fish, shellfish, eels, vegetation, eggs and wild honey were taken and prepared for eating. Obtaining food was a prized accomplishment and food was a symbol of hospitality and generosity.

How did Māori use natural resources for food and shelter? ›

Māori use of shelter

Māori developed techniques that allowed them to grow tropical plants such as kūmara (sweet potato), taro and yam (which they had brought from Polynesia) in New Zealand's temperate climate. They built low stone walls, and added sand and gravel to soil to form mounds and to help warm it.

What cooking methods are important for Māori? ›

Māori traditional cooking uses a cooking technique called 'hangi', which loosely translates to 'earth oven'. In traditional hangi cooking methods a hole is dug in the ground, and hot stones are placed at the bottom of the hole.

What is the most common Māori food? ›

Traditional foods

Important foods included whitebait, the seaweed karengo, huhu grubs, pikopiko (fern shoots), karaka berries and toroi – a dish of fresh mussels with pūhā (sow thistle) juice.

What fish did Māori eat? ›

Seafood has also long been a significant aspect of Māori diet. Māori fished for a range of inland and coastal fish: tuna (eel), kahawai, kōkiri (leatherjacket), ara ara (trevally) and tarakihi. Shellfish too were harvested: pipi, tuatua and toheroa, kina, queen scallops and pāua.

What birds did Māori eat? ›

New Zealand's forests provided Māori with food in the form of birds – kererū, kākā, tūī and others. Birds were cooked in a hāngī, or preserved in fat, and their feathers became cloaks or hair ornaments.

What did the Māori bring with them to NZ? ›

Māori created gardens and grew vegetables which they brought from Polynesia, including the kūmara (sweet potato). They also ate native vegetables, roots and berries. Kete were used to carry food, which was often stored in a pataka — a storehouse raised on stilts. The early settlers lived in small hunting groups.

What do you eat with Matariki? ›

Matariki is traditionally a time to get together to share kai harvested from past seasons. Cook a mid-winter feast for friends and whānau using traditional Māori vegetables such as kumara, kamo kamo, taro, puha and uwhi.

How did the Maori people survive? ›

The early settlers lived in small hunting bands. Seals and the large, flightless moa bird were their main prey, until moa were hunted to extinction. In the South Island, hunting and gathering remained the main mode of survival.

What are tikanga Māori values? ›

Tikanga includes Māori beliefs that are inherited values and concepts practised from generation to generation. This is demonstrated at tangihana (the mourning process before burial). Values include the importance of te reo (language), whenua (land), and in particular whānau (family and extended family group).

Why is it important to understand Māori values? ›

Beliefs and values are a significant part of Māori cultural identity, help establish cultural integrity, and can be strong determinants for regulating, modifying or controlling behaviour. Values can also be translated into actions in many ways.

What is considered rude in Māori culture? ›

Spitting in public is considered rude. Calling someone over by yelling “Oi” can be interpreted as rude or even antagonising. To call over a waiter or person of service, do not wave or yell. Instead, keep an eye out for them until they make eye contact, and then nod or raise your hand.

What food goes into a hāngī? ›

In traditional hāngī cooking, food such as fish and kumara (sweet potato), were cooked in a pit dug in the ground. Today, pork, lamb, potato, pumpkin and cabbage are also included. Hāngī was traditionally wrapped in flax leaves, but a modern Hāngī is more likely to use mutton cloth, aluminium foil and wire baskets.

Is Tapu a food? ›

To the Māori, food is a common element (noa) and the opposite of tapu. Whereas the whare tupuna (meeting house) is tapu (sacrosanct) and food cannot therefore be eaten there, the whare kai is free from tapu - the two are at opposite ends of a continuum.

What does the Maori culture believe in? ›

The Indigenous Māori Faith

The historic Māori practiced a polytheistic faith similar to those of other Polynesian cultures. According to their beliefs, gods, or atua, inhabit the natural world and shape the destinies of its people.

What are Māori concepts? ›

Māori people have a special way of connecting with the world around them. A concept known as Tikanga dictates the traditional rules, customs or laws for overseeing life as Māori. Tikanga is derived from the word Tika – which can be interpreted as the truth, correctness or fairness.

What are the 3 principles of Treaty of Waitangi? ›

The “3 Ps” comprise the well-established Crown Treaty framework – the principles of partnership, participation and protection.

What is tikanga best practice? ›

Support this by:
  • Not passing food over a person's head.
  • Not using pillowcases for any other purpose, and supporting whānau if they bring their own pillowcases.
  • Using different flannels for washing the head and washing the body. ...
  • Washing the body in a strict order starting from the neck, to the genital and then anal area.

What is the tikanga when saying a karakia? ›

Karakia are prayers, chants or incantations and are often part of tikanga Māori. They can be said for a range of purposes and to different spiritual beings, although in modern times, they may have a Christian form. Karakia are prayers, chants or incantations often included in Māori ritual and ceremony.

Why do Māori not cut hair at night? ›

This is because it was believed that others could find these body parts and place makutu on you. Cutting your hair and fingernails at night time meant that it would be easy for others to get a hold of these body parts and do harm to you.

What did Māori drink? ›

Introduction. Māori did not have alcohol before Europeans arrived; when they were introduced to it, most did not like it. It was called waipiro (stinking water), wai kaha (strong water), or, by the few who liked it, waipai (good water).

Did Māori have bread? ›

The bread is leavened with a fermented potato starter that is commonly known as a bug. It originated amongst the Māori people and is closely associated with Maori cuisine.

How did Māori catch fish? ›

Fish were taken with nets (some over a mile/1.6 km in length), traps, spears and hook-and-line. Fishhooks made of wood, stone, bone, ivory or shell, based on designs developed over many thousands of years, were used as lures (pä kahawai, pohau mangä) or suspended hooks (matau).

How did the Māori farm? ›

Māori traditionally used kō and timo (digging and grubbing tools) to prepare ground for planting crops. While effective on small garden plots they were labour intensive on large areas of land. In 1814 the missionary Samuel Marsden introduced horses and cattle. Missionary John Butler introduced the plough in 1820.

What food is eaten on Waitangi Day? ›

There will be HEAPS of food stalls, offering up everything from mussel fritters to watermelon ice cream, barbecue, chop suey, roast meat buns, fry bread, whitebait fritters, hāngī, raw fish, taniwha burgers… Oh and free watermelon all day long!

What is a Umu? ›

A Hangi or Umu is a traditional Maori and Pacific Islander way of cooking food in the ground using hot rocks to produce steam. The rocks are heated on a pile of burning timber.

How long does it take to cook a hāngī? ›

The cooking process will take about three hours, depending on how much food is in the hāngī Once your hāngī is done, slowly scrape the earth off the top.

Is Māori food spicy? ›

A major spice in Maori cuisine is horopito, which is also called the New Zealand pepper tree. When ground, it can replace normal black pepper as a seasoning. Its spicy citrus flavor has notes of sweet apple, giving dishes a taste profile that is simultaneously tangy and powerful.

What time is dinner in NZ? ›

Dinner is the main meal of the day and is eaten around 6-7 p.m. which is early compared to some countries. Dinner dishes are usually made up of potatoes (or another form of carbohydrates), vegetables, and a meat of choice. The most common dinner in New Zealand is fish and chips wrapped in newspaper.

Did Māori have flour? ›

With the availability of wheat and flour, Māori embraced the art of breadmaking and created three favourite breads which are still widely made today.

Can Maoris boil water? ›

The hāngi (earth oven), was great for feeding lots of people, while other meals were cooked over (or in) embers. Māori would also heat water to boiling in wooden bowls using red hot stones – although iwi who lived near geothermals had boiling water on hand 24/7.

What did Māori wear? ›

Māori wore a wide range of hairstyles and ornaments, skin colourings and oils, as well as facial or body tattoos. Clothing consisted of shoulder and waist garments, belts and sometimes sandals. People adorned themselves with a range of neck and ear pendants, and carried prized weapons in formal situations.

How did Māori store food? ›

Storing food

Pātaka – small, raised buildings, some elaborately carved – were used to store food for ceremonial events and winter use. Storage pits, sterilised by fire and sealed against vermin, were also used to hold some foods, such as kūmara.

Are Māori allowed to eat kererū? ›

Some Māori are continuing to hunt and eat kereru or kukupa, as the bird's called in Northland.

How did Māori preserve meat? ›

Shellfish were threaded onto long lengths of twisted flax and hung from lines or whata (platforms) to dry in the sun and wind. Meat, fruits and seeds were also dried. Fatty birds such as tītī (muttonbirds) were preserved in their own fat. After cooking, the hot fat was set aside.

What cooking methods are important for Māori? ›

Māori traditional cooking uses a cooking technique called 'hangi', which loosely translates to 'earth oven'. In traditional hangi cooking methods a hole is dug in the ground, and hot stones are placed at the bottom of the hole.

What food is eaten during Matariki? ›

Matariki is traditionally a time to get together to share kai harvested from past seasons. Cook a mid-winter feast for friends and whānau using traditional Māori vegetables such as kumara, kamo kamo, taro, puha and uwhi.

What is Pohata? ›

Old-time Maori women expelled the juice of the wild turnip (pohata) and rauriki and these together were taken for haemorrhage after childbirth. Another purgative was made by the thickened juice mixed with the fresh gum resin of kohukohu, and this was chewed as a masticatory.

Why is Kai so important to Māori? ›

For many people, including Māori, kai is a very important part of culture because gathering, preparing and sharing kai shows hospitality and respect for visitors. Food and the culture and customs around it create a sense of community. Kaimoana refers to food which has been gathered from the sea: Pāua - abalone.

What is the most common Māori food? ›

Traditional foods

Important foods included whitebait, the seaweed karengo, huhu grubs, pikopiko (fern shoots), karaka berries and toroi – a dish of fresh mussels with pūhā (sow thistle) juice.

What is a Māori feast called? ›

In traditional hāngī cooking, food such as fish and kumara (sweet potato), were cooked in a pit dug in the ground. Today, pork, lamb, potato, pumpkin and cabbage are also included. Hāngī was traditionally wrapped in flax leaves, but a modern Hāngī is more likely to use mutton cloth, aluminium foil and wire baskets.

What fish did Māori eat? ›

Seafood has also long been a significant aspect of Māori diet. Māori fished for a range of inland and coastal fish: tuna (eel), kahawai, kōkiri (leatherjacket), ara ara (trevally) and tarakihi. Shellfish too were harvested: pipi, tuatua and toheroa, kina, queen scallops and pāua.

What does Matariki mean in English? ›

Matariki has many different names around the world.

In English, it is called the Pleiades (its ancient Greek name) or the Seven Sisters. The Hawaiian name is Makali'i, or 'eyes of royalty', and in Japan it is Subaru, meaning 'gathered together'.

What does Kawa Kawa mean? ›

1. (noun) kawakawa, pepper tree, Macropiper excelsum - a small, densely-branched tree with heart-shaped leaves.

What does kawakawa symbolize? ›

The large, heart-shaped leaves were a Māori symbol for courage and fortitude, while a branch of kawakawa laid on the marae was regarded as an aituā, signifying mourning and death.

What is Horopito used for? ›

Topical uses include fungal infections such as Candida albicans and ringworm, wounds, cuts, burns and painful bruises. Fresh leaves were also chewed for toothache. Internally, Horopito was used for treating diarrhoea and stomach ache and poor circulation.

What food did Māori bring to New Zealand? ›

When the Māori came to New Zealand, they introduced and cultivated a range of Polynesian vegetables to New Zealand, including Kumara, Yam and Taro. Also, the Kiore (the Polynesian rat), and the Kuri (the Polynesian dog) were brought to the islands.

What parts of the body are tapu? ›

The head is seen as 'the most tapu' of all body parts. The head is the distinguishing feature between each person. The brain is housed within the head and it is the brain that makes the person who they are.

Does Kai mean food? ›

'Kai' is the Maori word for 'food'.

Videos

1. Gordon Ramsay Serves His Maori Inspired Meal | Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted
(Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted)
2. The BEST of New Zealand's Rugged South | Part One | Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted
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3. How to Husk a Coconut
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4. Maori Cooking | Wanderlust: New Zealand [EP 4]
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5. TUPUNA KAI: A Māori diet based on what ancestors ate
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6. How to cook a Hangi
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