Māori kai festivals are popular in New Zealand and have a lot to offer international tourists and Kiwis (The common nickname for New Zealanders) alike.
Kāwhia Kai Festival is a genuine celebration of the Kai Māori (traditional Māori food) from the land and sea. The festival is celebrated annually and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The festival takes place around Waitangi weekend in early February. This festival was ranked among the top 10 indigenous events in the world by Lonely Planet.
The Kāwhia Kai festival includes cultural activities, as well as a huge selection of delicious Māori food, both traditional and modern. On the main stage you will find entertainment throughout the whole day.
Kapa-haka (performing arts) groups perform during the day and are an integral part of this truly unique experience. Sites featuring Whakairo-Rākau (wood carving), Rāranga (flax weaving) and Tā-moko (tattooing) provide visitors with a unique opportunity to experience first hand traditional artists at work and get an insight into authentic Māori arts and crafts.
The all-day entertainment provides a great family atmosphere for children and adults. For many indigenous Māori, this special day is about reconnecting with their whānau (extended family) as well as to their spiritual homeland.
For centuries the Māori people shared a great love and respect for their ancestor’s fertile land. The common belief is that earth is the provider of all life as the food comes from the soil. The same food is cooked beneath the ground in typical Māori hangi style.
In the past, traditional Māori food was only reserved for Māori functions and events; nowadays, international tourists can also enjoy these delights at one of New Zealand’s growing calendar of kai Māori festivals.
Every year, more than 2,500 kono (traditional flax baskets) are woven especially to serve more than 10,000 visitors from all over the world. The baskets hold portions of delicious Māori food which has been cooked in several gigantic underground ovens.
Kāwhia, where the festival takes place, is a coastal town in the central North Island of New Zealand. The locals call Kāwhia "kai food heaven" because of the massive supplies of seafood and wild game. Festival visitors can feast on wild pork, a wide variety of shellfish, marinated mussels and watercress, whitebait patties, pirau fermented corn, puha spring rolls, shark liver pate, and mud snails. Bring a fork and your appetite!