Winter reflections from the Hokianga

Toi Tangata Kai Maori Kai Ora lead, Haylee Koroi, reflects on the winter that has gone and the learnings that the season has brought us.

We are in the first phase of summer at the moment here in Hokianga, hei tā Rereata Makiha ko Matiti Hana. Matiti Hana is indicated by the flowering of the puawānanga. Kāore anō māua ko Hana kia kite i tētahi puawānanga, Hana and I have not yet seen the blooming of the puawānanga, and in that regard we are thankful for our relations who have been on the lookout. It has been a very wet winter, with a number of powerful and even unprecedented storms here in the Hokianga. 

That energy has reflected in our [un]wellness here at home as we attempt to recover from COVID-19 and the myriad of other illnesses moving through our whānau and hāpori at this time. We, like many others I’m sure, are waiting in excited anticipation for the warmer weather to arrive. Alongside the tanned skin, swimming and time spent outside, I am most excited about the seasonal kai that will soon be exploding from local māra kai, food stores and backyards. 

Some of my favourite memories are of summers as a child spent eating summer fruits like watermelon and strawberries. Kai gifted from relatives are even more intimate and special simply because we recognise the layers of whanaungatanga – soils tended, plants watered, stoves hobbled over – the true value of the gift. As an adult, reciprocating those koha has been such a joyful process. 

For now however, we are reflecting on the winter that has gone and the learnings that the season has brought us. Among these lessons has been the challenge of cooking delicious and exciting seasonal kai from home, which can be hard sometimes given the limitations of what is available. Some of the local, seasonal vegetables we have used over winter include broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, leeks, spinach, kale, carrots, bok choy, lettuce and onions. In case you have some winter stores left over and need some inspiration check out the recipes below!  

Some of our favourite winter recipes:

White fish, bok choy and coconut vermicelli soup

Warm Asian noodle soups have been our go to over winter, and we love them because we don’t have a lot of access to Asian food here in Hokianga, and we need easy to make alternatives. The trick to coconut based noodle soups like this one is the thai paste you use. We love the valcom authentic thai or red curry paste.

View the recipe here.

Leek tart 

I’ve grown a love for leeks over the last few years after not really knowing how to use them for a long time. They are really easy to grow in your garden in little nooks and crannies, and can be used to substitute onions. When fried down in a soup or tart they are delicious! 

View the recipe here.