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Kai Recipe's used by Kawhia Maori & Early Pioneers

The following are some great Maori & early pioneer recipe's, utilising natural plants, ferns, dried eels, seaweed and seafoods...enjoy


The native cabbage tree yields a very edible vegetable. Break out the heart of the tree, not the bloom, and strip away the leaves or grass, and a firm white core results.

Boil in salted water till tender. It is bitter, but delicious with roast meat.


Pikopiko is a fern found in the bush. Gather the young fronds before they open, and cook in the same manner as asparagus. Serve with melted butter on toast or as a vegetable.


Recommended Maori Kai Books:

Kai Time: Tasty Modern Maori Food Kai Time: Tasty Modern Maori Food

Drawing from the abundant fare that the New Zealand land and sea have to offer, charismatic Maori chef and television personality Peter Peeti shares his culinary knowledge and favourite recipes in this wonderful book. Based on the popular show on Maori TV, Kai Time on the Road (now in its sixth season), Peeti reveals not just a flair for cooking but also his passion for hunting, fishing and procuring ingredients direct from the source. Including such delectable dishes as: Eel and Whitebait Omelette; Venison with Blackberry Jus, Kumara and Potato Rosti and Pikopiko; and Roast Garlic and Thyme Prawns on Coconut Jasmine Rice, Peeti redefines Maori cuisine by blending traditional Maori ingredients and practices with the many modern culinary styles of New Zealand...» read more

From Kai to Kiwi Kitchen: New Zealand's Culinary Traditions and Cookbooks

From Kai to Kiwi Kitchen: New Zealand's Culinary Traditions and Cookbooks

n the past two decades, cuisine and culinary history have attracted increasing attention, with both popular and academic books reflecting the growth of interest. Recipes are both sensitive markers of the socioeconomic conditions of their times and written representations of a culture's culinary repertoire yet, despite the vast number of cookbooks that survive, they have not been the primary focus of research projects. Acknowledgement of their potential contribution to our understanding of culinary history has been slow. This book is a first in its field...»read more



This vegetable is only too often despised. It contains valuable salts, if cooked properly, and should appear regular in European menu.

Gather when young, wash and crush in two or three waters.

Have water boiling, add salt, and a good tablespoon of dripping, and boil 20 minutes to half an hour. Drain and serve like cabbage.

It may be cooked with any corned meat or some rashers of bacon.


Karengo is a seaweed which grows on the rocks, and is gathered in August or September.

In the olden days the Maoris used to tao it (i.e., steam in a hangi or native oven), but it may be steamed and dried, and when wanted for use pour over it some boiling water and add butter or good dripping, and cook for about 10 minutes.

This is eaten as a vegetable. Authorities advocate the karengo as a preventative for goitre, as it contains iodine.


Any number of pauas, scraped and cleaned, then beaten with hammer. Fry in very hot fat and drain.

Be careful when frying to keep a lid or paper over the pan, as they splutter a lot. when they are cooked on one side, turn and reduce heat.


With a sharp knife remove the fish from the shell and pull off the paua, and after scraping and cleaning, put through the mincer.

Make a batter with one egg, half cup milk, salt and pepper, and flour to make it about the consistency of cream, and lastly half teaspoon baking powder; then add 6 medium-sized pauas, minced and fry in very hot fat for about 5 minutes.

Drain and serve very hot. 


The kina is found on rocks and under ledges. These are best gathered at low tide when still covered with water.

At certain seasons of the year there is a more edible portion than at others.

The early' spring is a particularly good time to gather this fish. The shell is covered with spikes, but after a while one gets quite used to handling them.

Open with a sharp knife, shake, and clinging to the sides is the edible substance.

This can easily be taken out with a spoon. The colour varies, sometimes pinkish brown, yellow or dark brown.


Fill a pie-dish with alternate layers of kina and breadcrumbs, having breadcrumbs for the last layer.

Be generous with the butter, and put knobs all over the top; put into a hot oven, then reduce heat and bake about half to three quarters of an hour, or until set.

Be careful and do not over-cook, otherwise, like oysters, they become indigestible, although they do not harden as do oysters.


"Silver bellies" are the best eels for drying. Clean the eels, then grill them over a hot fire, care being taken not to cook them - they should only be half-cooked.

String them on flax, do not let them lie in heaps. Hang out to dry in strong wind to dry them quickly.

Store them in a dry and airy place. Do not let them get damp, as they will go mouldy.

When needed, steam them for an hour, and serve. These are delicious with white sauce.

The big eels can be salted or smoked successfully like all other fish, and cooked in the same way.


Shake as much pollen (yellow) from the raupo heads as is required, and to every pound of pollen use half cup of cold water to mix.

Put into a greased bowl, and steam about 2 hours. The Maoris used to wrap raupo leaves round the mixture and steam in the hangi. This is just like ordinary bread.


Grate ordinary maize (in the cob is best) fairly fine, into meal. Add sufficient water to bind the meal, then wrap corn leaves round the dough previously formed into little cakes or rolls.

Put into boiling water, and boil for 2 and a half hours. If wanted sweet, add a little sugar.

This mixture can also be boiled in a cloth like plum pudding. It is delicious hot or cold, cut in slices and buttered. (Spice can also be added.)


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