Huge gourmet hangi celebrates Māori Matariki
09 Apr 2009
A giant gourmet hangi, created by Kiwi celebrity chef Peter Gordon, will launch New Zealand’s 2009 celebrations for Matariki or Māori New Year.
The hangi feast for 700-plus guests - thought to be the largest of its type in the world - will be held at Turangawaewae Marae at Ngaruawahia in the North Island on Sunday, 10 May (10.05.09).
The event - to be followed by a concert featuring some of New Zealand’s best known musicians - is being organised by Māori singer-songwriter Hinewehi Mohi. It will raise funds for the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre which provides music therapy for special needs children.
Hangi is an ancient Māori method of cooking food using super-heated rocks buried in the ground in a pit oven.
This giant gourmet version of the traditional feast will require a large staff to prepare food, dig the ground and lay the hangi.
Peter Gordon’s gourmet hangi menu will include marinated pork loin with kawakawa (native herb with a mint flavour), stuffed pork belly, marinated chicken with local manuka honey, whole baby lamb and marinated beef with peppery native horopito.
All the dishes have been devised to add a twist to the usual hangi fare, Peter Gordon says. "I’ve simply added a fusion approach using local ingredients where I can and some Asian spicing as well. It will be very tasty I can assure you."
Peter Gordon is joined by other high profile New Zealand chefs including Anne Thorp, the Māori ‘Queen of Cuisine’ and star of Kai Ora, and the Turangawaewae Marae chief cooks.
VIP guests include the Māori King, King Tuheitia, Minister of Māori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples, and Mayor of Ngaruawahia Peter Harris.
Tourism New Zealand is also organising a group of international media to attend the event that has been internationally billed as Aotearoa’s biggest gourmet hangi and concert.
The list of performing artists is a who’s who of New Zealand music and includes Hinewehi Mohi, Dave Dobbyn, Hollie Smith, Tama Waipara, Whirimako Black, Nesian Mystik, Ruia Aperahama, Moana and the Tribe, Maisey Rika and Pania Papa.
Matariki is the Māori name for the group of stars - also known as the ‘Pleiades’ star cluster or The Seven Sisters - and is referred to as the traditional Māori New Year.
The pre-dawn rise of Matariki can be seen in the last few days of May each year, and the new year is marked at the sighting of the next new moon which occurs during June.
Matariki has special significance in terms of food and hospitality with celebrations timed to fall at the end of a harvest when food stores are full. Matariki is seen as a time to share in the gifts provided by the land and sea.
Māori cultural experiences
Organisers say the idea behind the gourmet hangi and concert marking the start of Matariki was to create a celebration that reflected today’s Aotearoa New Zealand.
"This event provides a unique opportunity to modernise the traditions of Matariki focusing on Māori traditions, music, food and the sharing of ideas.
Peter’s menu has a real gourmet touch to the traditional hangi and the music has a strong Māori flavour too. But the event also includes a range of Māori cultural experiences with a back-drop of art and design," Mohi said.
A huge manu aute or Māori kite on loan from the Waikato Museum will be displayed at the event. It was designed in the traditional manner by artists Rama Kete, Pita and Karen Te Ngaru, and Kirihaehae Kirkwood. NZ artist Tracey Tawhiao has designed the stage backdrop.
Background: Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre
The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre (RMTC), which opened in Auckland in March 2004, is New Zealand’s only music therapy centre. It provides music therapy for special needs children of school age and younger.
The idea for the centre grew from Hinewehi Mohi’s family experience of music therapy in the UK and, subsequently, the realisation there was a need to provide a similar service here.
Mohi, husband George and daughter Hineraukatauri spent time at the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre in London in 1999. Hineraukatauri has severe cerebral palsy.
It was soon evident that therapy through music struck a chord for Hineraukatauri. For the first time in her life, she had an opportunity to participate in and control an activity and to actually create something. Most important for Hineraukatauri, music became a means to communicate.
Within a year of establishment, the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre had grown to four registered music therapists and moved to bigger premises.
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