Hungry for Hangi in New Zealand

The Maoris in New Zealand have always had their own special culture and traditions. This includes a traditional meal called Hangi. Hangi is an experience not just a meal. The Maoris believe that the earth is the giver of all life. The soil is the giver of food and to honor this belief the food is cooked in a pit under the ground. Fish, pork and chicken are combined with root vegetables to create a delicious feast. Pumpkin, cabbage and sweet potato are often added to enhance the meal. Traditionally this was all wrapped together in leaves and placed on hot stones at the bottom of the pit. A wet cloth covered the leaves and soil was placed on top of this. After cooking for three to four hours the feast is ready. The meat and vegetables are tender with a smoky flavor.

There are several places in Rotorua where Hangi can be enjoyed. Hangi is just part of an entire evening dedicated to the Maori culture. The evening begins with a welcome and a traditional challenge given by the Maoris. The evening continues with speeches, songs and traditional dances. It is then finished with the wonderful Hangi that has been cooked for several hours. Soak up the Maori culture at the Matai Maori Village. Their Hangi includes fish, meat, vegetables, and seafood. This is served with soup, salads, and dessert. Another exciting tour is an hour from Rotorua at Wairakei Terraces. Walk around the living Maori Village before enjoying Hangi. The carvers, weavers, and tattooists will make this a meal that won’t soon be forgotten. The Millennium Hotel Rotorua on North Island offers an in-house Hangi for those who don’t want to take a tour. Te Puia offers a spectacular view of the geyser while enjoying the Hangi. Te Puia uses gas to cook the Hangi so the taste and aroma will be different than traditional cooking.

Two places in Christchurch are known for the Hangi experience. The Tamaki Heritage Village encourages interaction with the Maoris. Learn about the Maori history and culture while enjoying Hangi. Nga Hau E Wha is another place where Hangi is served in Christchurch.

It is important to remember that Hangi is a way of cooking. A hole has to be dug and filled with rocks before the meal can be started the food then cooks for three or four hours. This would make it extremely difficult to do in a restaurant. This is the main reason that Hangi is usually part of a cultural experience.

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