Hangi – A First for the College

September 28, 2018 at 4:33 PM

Culinary innovation and cultural diversity have helped New Zealand earn a strong reputation as an exciting fine food destination for discerning foodies. Food Technology at the College has long recognised this growing interest in the way that food is prepared and shared, with a focus on fresh ingredients and designerly thinking. With the plethora of culinary shows on television, students are recognising that the food industry offers some very valid and varied career pathways. 

Our Food Technology students are encouraged to experiment with their culinary creations and are given many opportunities to work with different styles of cuisine and share the fruits of their labour – taking the opportunity for constructive feedback from those invited to taste. 

During Maori language week earlier in the term, staff member, Mr Joe Cunningham facilitated a whole staff initiative for teachers to present a Maori word or ‘word of the week’ (kupu o te wiki). Head of Food Technology, Mr Jeff Thomas presented the word, ‘hangi’ and an idea was born!

This tied in with the year-long work of Year 12 and Year 13 Food Technology students. Year 12 has just completed a 6-credit internal called the ‘Aotearoa House Project.’  They were required to create a food product which featured native New Zealand ingredients. Their research necessitated them to consider the culinary meeting point between indigenous Maori and European settlers, and the early cooking techniques of each party, and the blend from then on, was investigated. 

Year 13, on the other hand, were charged with establishing their own food philosophy in their 6-credit Culinarian Study.  In the early stages of this project, thoughts around food from a Kiwi/settler/’back in day’ point of view were researched.  How and why food was prepared and cooked in certain ways, how food was seen and the importance of it from different cultural perspectives?

Mr Thomas said, ‘As a hangi featured in both these cases, it seemed only logical that these learners would benefit from being part of this process first-hand.’ 

The day chosen for the hangi followed on from the night of Maori and Pasifika Cultural Concert. Year 12 student, Valance Yates was a key figure in the concert and whilst not a Food Technology student, willing lent his experience and that of his visiting, koro, Tim Hemi and his mother, Michelle Hemi to ensuring the project was authentic and successful. 

Students prepared the kai in the days prior and on the morning, were all there before 6am to get the fire underway and finish food preparation. 

Valance and fellow students, Kalani Parkinson and Gareth Lacey put their backs into the hard work of preparing the pit ready for the food. Mr Hemi guided the students to know when the burning wood had heated the stones sufficiently for the baskets of food to be laid in the pit, covered with wet sacking and then by a mound of earth to trap the heat. This was hot, physical work for the boys!

Then it was back to class for three hours! 

At lunchtime the covers were peeled back and the food plated up ready for over 60 diners. The result of this long process was tender, off-the-bone meat and delicious vegetables, all infused with a smoky, earthy fragrance. 

We offer our sincere thanks to Valance’s koro, Tim Hemi and his mother, Michelle Hemi for spending time with our students to share their knowledge.



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