The Maori people place special importance on the social and cultural aspects of the hangi—a traditional feast not unlike the Hawaiian luau or other Polynesian customs found in the Pacific. While hangi meals regularly take place in gathering houses (marae) across New Zealand, many that welcome visitors happen in the cultural center of Rotorua.
What Is a Hangi?
Hangi-like cooking has been happening in New Zealand for centuries. When laying down a hangi, wood is set ablaze to heat stones set in a large pit dug in the ground. Food is wrapped in moist leaves or placed in wire baskets, then covered for several hours to cook. Today, some hangi presentations involve removing the food from this earthen oven (umu) before sharing the bounty with hungry attendees.
- Hangi typically include foods such as sweet potato (kumara), carrots, lamb, and chicken.
- The enriching hangi experience often starts off with an authentic welcome ceremony.
- Pair your meal with a village tour to learn more about Maori history and customs.
- Opt for a feast that follows a riveting performance of traditional song and dance.