One of the largest influences both past and present on New Zealand’s food are The Māori. The Māori are natives to New Zealand who originated in Polynesia. They brought with them a number of food and food plants. They used earth ovens and geothermal areas (for boiling and roasting). Food was non sacred to these people which meant it had to be kept separate of certain places and objects.
European s joined The Māori in New Zealand towards late eighteenth century and they brought even more food with them. This helped end severe food shortages. These foods included potatoes, pumpkins, wheat and sugar. They also introduced alcohol to The Māori culture. Trade was a common means of sharing wealth and resources amongst The Māori and European settlers. They began to eat birds and other hunted proteins as well.
Today, The Māori culture still heavily influences the cuisine within New Zealand. The Māori food today is more contemporary and often mixed with the influence of British disheds. The Māori also have incorporated more European style which some fear puts The Māori and those who eat their dishes at risk for issues such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. If you visit New Zealand and are looking for a taste of The Māori culture, you should look for the two more common and authentic dishes of a boil up which contains port, potatoes and dumplings as well as pork and puha. These dishes are authentic in their taste and ingredients but also in the methods used to cook the dishes. Less popular with tourist tastes are dishes containing fermented potatoes.
It is always interesting and important to understand and know the history and culture behind the food within different countries and cultures. It makes us think about what we eat and the reasons for it. It makes eating a much more interesting and enriching experience.