How did the maoris preserve their food?

Traditional Maori Food

Kai is the Maori word for food. Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people, were hunters, gatherers and crop farmers, who gathered food from the forest, stream, sea and garden. Their diet was traditionally birds and fish together with gathered wild herbs and roots. Gardens grew root crops including potato and kumara.

New Zealanders today continue to enjoy traditional Maori cuisine and delicacies. On special occasions feasting includes traditional foods and cooking methods. Food is often cooked in a hole dug in the ground, in a traditional style known as a hangi. Food is placed on hot stones which are overlaid with cloth and covered with a mound of earth to allow the heat to cook through. A hangi can be experienced by visitors in Rotorua at Tamaki Maori Village.

  • Maori herbs are used by Rotorua-based Maori chef Charles Royal, who mixes traditional herbs and indigenous foods into contemporary cuisine. This includes delicacies such as his kuku patties (made with distinctive green mussels), puha greens or salmon flavoured with manuka (New Zealand tea tree) honey, kelp (dried algae) and horopito leaves
  • Maori potatoes of the taewa tutaekuri variety are unusual purple potatoes which were among the winners of the 'Slow Food 2000 awards' which promote the preservation of biodiversity
  • Rewena pararoa (Maori bread), is potato bread, which is sold at weekend markets and some speciality bread shops
  • Traditional food gathering: On small islands near Stewart Island Maori continue to harvest the mutton bird (titi), the Sooty Shearwater, Puffinus griseus . These were preserved in their fat, inside bags made from hollow kelp, and were traded as a delicacy with remote tribes. The Rakiura Maori mutton bird has a very distinct flavour and is an acquired taste. Eel and water cress (a green leafy vegetable grown in streams) are also foods that are traditionally gathered by Maori
  • Tohu Wines - the first indigenous branded wine to be produced for the export market. Members of the tribe are involved at all stages from production through to marketing. The wine is harvested from the regions of Marlborough and Gisborne.

    'For centuries Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, worked on, lived around and loved the rugged yet fertile lands of their ancestors. There was awareness that the earth was the giver of all life. From the soil came food and that same food was cooked beneath the earth. It was accepted that the people who were born onto that land inherited the right to produce from it and to protect it for the benefit of all.'