Celebrating Matariki With Stacey Morrison: Q&A

As part of our Matariki celebrations, we’ve partnered with Stacey Morrison, where she brings her delicious Chicken Hāngī Parcels recipe to our My Choice range to share with our foodies! We recently caught up with Stacey to talk about her celebrations, traditions, and what Matariki means to her, and of course we had to get her to try our special Matariki range of Kitchen goodies!

Stacey Morrison enjoying our special Matariki menu range!

What does Matariki mean to you? How do you celebrate? Do you have any family traditions?

Matariki is very conveniently placed around my birthday! But beyond that, Matariki is a time for celebration and rejuvenation of our practices, and I guess things that we lost, or nearly lost. It feels really special that Matariki is a public holiday now, thanks to the work of a lot of people. It’s unique to us here in Aotearoa. Where people would previously do a mid-winter Christmas, this resonates on a much deeper level. 
Matariki gives us time to be in touch with our environment, to have a chance to reset, think about what’s happened, who we’ve lost and who’s missing, but we can plan ahead and look forward, and set our intentions for the year ahead.  Hiwa i te rangi – ‘the wishing star’ 

When I was growing up, I didn’t know why but Matariki just felt like a really special time to me. It’s got a nice symmetry of being in the middle of the year, with the Māori calendar being based on the moon and the stars. 
It’s also an opportunity for us to really celebrate and embrace our seasons. We adapt Christmas with Santa, even though it doesn’t suit our seasons. So with Matariki being in winter, we eat winter kai, allowing us to really celebrate seasonal kai!

What are your favourite things to cook or eat over Matariki? 

It’s all about comfort kai – winter food!

A few favourites are Hāngī parcels – which is where my recipe for My Food Bag came from!
Steamed pudding – I don’t make it but my aunties make it amazingly! It’s made in a box or old tin, and has a caramel type flavour. The batter is put in steam boxes and it’s then steamed from under the ground. Then served with plenty of custard and cream – delicious! 
I also can’t go past my aunties amazing fry bread, or rēwena! Rēwana is a type of sourdough made with a potato starter – everyone in the family has their specialties or thinks theirs is the best – it’s just delicious.

What’s one of your favourite traditional Māori ingredients that you would love to see more widely used or recognised?

Kamokamo. This is a type of squash, and a favourite Māori food. It’s often eaten young and immature.
Traditional herbs. There are so many herbs that are used for their medicinal properties. Such as horopito and kawakawa. They are both amazing and good for you but also taste really good!
And of course kūmara – it’s a core ingredient for so many but it’s still so celebrated. It’s humble! We have a saying that goes something like ‘the kūmara does not speak of its own sweetness’ which I love!

If you really enjoy a meal, what’s your go to expression in Te Reo to express that?

Reka! Meaning: ‘sweet, yum, delicious!’

You can find Stacey’s Chicken Hāngī Parcels with Broccoli & Watercress Béarnaise recipe, as well as the rest of our curated Matariki recipes as part of our My Choice range!

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