Kai (Māori cuisine) is loved by New Zealanders. Here's why there's no better way to experience Aotearoa than through your taste buds.
Kai (Māori cuisine ) is celebrated across Aotearoa. From fine dining experiences led by top fusion chefs to hāngī takeaways, kai makes the most of traditional food flavours from forest, sea, river and field.
Restaurants like award-winning Hiakai in Pōneke (Wellington) have set the bar high with new kaupapa (purpose). Designed by Chef Monique Fiso, the menus are inspired by the whenua (land), moana (sea), and tāngata whenua (people) of Aotearoa. They regularly feature tītī (muttonbird), red matipo, and mamaku – ingredients rarely seen on restaurant menus before recent times.
Great chefs abound, and gourmet fusion cooking has quite a scene now. So, if you happen across a gourmet pop-up event by Masterchef-winning chefs Kārena and Kasey Bird, sisters from Maketu in the Western Bay of Plenty, make sure you check it out.
Travelling through Aotearoa you'll notice Māori flavours everywhere, from kaimoana (seafood) and the unusual kina (sea urchin) to flavours from the native bush like pikopiko (fern shoots), kawakawa, horopito or other greens like kōwhitiwhiti (watercress) or pūhā (sow thistle), which is often partnered with pork.
Pork is also a staple of the traditional ‘boil up’ – a wonderful broth also containing root vegetables, which you can try at the Hangi Shop in South Auckland, along with other favourites like Rewana bread.
Or, why not try mouth-watering hāngi – a traditional cooking method where food is steamed underground. You can grab it to take away or eat in. Try Auckland's Māori Kitchen.
The food is a fusion of Māori and international flavours, from corn and watercress soup to chicken steamed underground.Or head to nearby Te Pā Tū for culture and kai (Māori cuisine) served together. You'll experience Māori history, traditions, and future aspirations across four hours of celebration and feasting.
Each year it celebrates a Māori chef, inviting them to design and curate a taotaka kai (menu) of seasonal kai.
Where to try Māori foods
These experiences offer the chance to taste amazing Māori cuisine.