What if our search for a New Zealand ‘cuisine’ has been right in front of us, all this time?

Eat New Zealand is unearthing and holding space for our original and indigenous food stories through Aotearoa’s only national food celebration, Feast Matariki. They’re bringing together growers, fishers, chefs, story-tellers and others who are hosting a wide variety of food-focussed events for whānau, communities and eaters of all backgrounds.

While Matariki rises on July 2nd, the celebration runs from June 21st to July 8th. Prospective hosts and eaters can learn more and register through the collective’s website.

Feast Matariki 2021 is a celebration for us all, says Eat New Zealand CEO Angela Clifford. “As New Zealanders we are a unique combination of many people, ingredients, places and cultures, grounded in our connection to our land and ocean.

Our vision is that this becomes THE time of year that we come together to enjoy the warmth of each other’s company and celebrate the bounty of this abundant country. Most of our food celebrations are imported from other parts of the world, but this is unique to Aotearoa.

Feast Matariki 2021 supporter Professor Rāngi Mātāmua leads the government’s task force on Matariki (in the lead up to the public holiday in 2022) and notes that “food is an anchor point or pathway to the celebration of Matariki. It’s a way for whānau and communities to come together to both celebrate and connect with their environment, by sourcing food from it.”

Eat New Zealand is also working with Potatoes NZ to unearth a little New Zealand treasure (taonga), the Taewa or Māori Potato by having a photo competition over this period. ‘The Great Taewa Hunt’ will be judged by cook Nadia Lim, who grows them for her family on their farm. “These little potatoes have an amazing history, and are found in lots of different shapes and colours so I’m looking forward to seeing how people capture them”.

The organisation is also celebrating our native green-lipped mussels, introducing ’The Mighty Mussel Gathering’ during Feast Matariki, searching out dishes, recipes and stories throughout the motu (land).

Some of the standout events happening during this period include:

Kaihaukai –  Sunday 27th June, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, Cocos Cantina

A kaihaukai is a feast which acknowledges the exchange of food and ideas. Hosted by Damaris Coulter (The Realness) and Eat New Zealand, it includes a korero by Prof Rangi Matamua as well Māori chefs and writers Gretta Carney (Hapī) & Emma Galloway (My Darling Lemon Thyme).

Matariki Dish Challenge – 12th June to 12th July, throughout Waikato

Waikato Food Inc encourages chefs to create a dish celebrating Maori New Year and Waikato Produce.

Know the Whakapapa of Your Kai – Friday 25th June to Saturday 26th June, Gatherings Restaurant, Ōtautahi/ Christchurch.

Young Māori chef Josh Hunter brings this much-loved pop-up back to the city, cooking with his friends, showcasing his food and whakapapa.

Modern Matariki Hāngi with Joe McLeod – Friday 9th July, Te Whanganui a Tara / Wellington Botanic Gardens.

Chef Joe McLeod is on a mission to teach us more about Māori cuisine and will introduce people to the rich and varied history and ingredients.

Puanga Matariki Hakari – Saturday 3rd July, Tāmaki Makaurau/ Auckland , Ahi Restaurant.

A long lunch collaboration between Ben Bayly and his longtime friend and inspirational Hāngi Master Rewi Spraggon.

Matariki Stellar 9 course degustation – Saturday 3rd July, Aoraki / Mt Cook. Lakeside Retreat.

Celebrate Matariki under the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve with family and friends.  It will be a shared conversation over an innovative nine-course degustation dinner matched with each of the stars in the constellation

This nationwide celebratory and storytelling event is supported by Potatoes NZ, Aquaculture NZ and Anchor Food Professionals – who have all chosen to lean in and help tell our unique stories.

Feast Matariki provides the chance to honour our global heritage, to hero our native and locally grown ingredients and to showcase and acknowledge the truest sense of our manaakitanga or hospitality.

So build your table, pull up a seat and draw close to help celebrate Aotearoa’s only national food celebration – Feast Matariki.

‘Matariki ahunga nui.’ (‘Matariki, provider of food’)

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