Roast lamb isn’t New Zealand’s national dish – the hangi is!
One of New Zealand’s favourite home cook couples is on a personal crusade for Maori
dishes to have greater relevance to all Kiwis.
Henry and Monique Heke, who won the People’s Choice on My Kitchen Rules in 2015,
want to showcase Maori kai to mainstream New Zealand. They have a new show Tradition on a Plate – putting a restaurant spin on dishes such as hangi, boil up and marinated fish.
“For too long people have said, ‘What’s Aotearoa’s traditional dish? And people say roast lamb. Our traditional dish is hangi”, reckons Henry.
Monique adds: “I’d like non-Maori to see that Maori food is and can be healthy, using vegetables they might not have ever tried before”.
Henry was taught how to peel potatoes before he could go to school. Henry’s mum
couldn’t read or write but encouraged all three of her children to go to university.
“As urban Maori now, we’ve moved away from our Marae. We’ve moved away from those rural areas and we’ve bought ourselves to the cities. Kaimoana is not abundant like it used to be,” says Henry.
“When I think about my mother, I think about boil up. I think about visitors. If there was a
boil up when I came home from school, it said a couple of things for me: it said, my
uncle’s here; my nanny’s here; my cousins are here. You know what? It also said, that
my mother was happy.
 “You know my mother was… she was everything. I’ve taught my sons how to do hangi.
And I think what we need to do as whanau is actually do it more often. Not leave it for
special occasions or fund raisers. We need to start doing it more and more often.”
Monqiue says: “Dinner is held at the table and we insist that everyone sits down, mobile phones are banned. Our daughters are 9 years old and 5 years old – our oldest can cook pancakes from scratch and enjoys making pasta with Henry.”
She also has a tradition: Always throw the first fish back when diving or fishing to show
respect to Tangaroa (Pa taught us that). When we have lots of whanau over, the rule is
kaumatua first, kids then the rest.
Tradition on a Plate, M?ori TV, Thursdays at 7.30pm

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