Of late I’ve been hankering to get in touch with my culture, my Maori roots.
I want to colour in the other half of my picture, join a few dots and finish a few sentences about the why the who and the how of me. My da was Maori, and his early departure meant I grew up Anglo (my other culture). And if you didn’t know my lineage you wouldn’t know by looking, my physicality gives nothing away. I have the whitest of white skin that burns after just looking at the sun, oh and Auburn hair.
I find identity such an interesting possession, part purchased for you and part created by your own will. On the pre-purchased culture I was handed, though not shown I am curious to see and learn more.
And today I had a wee taste……literally! Today I tried my first Hangi; food cooked in the traditional Maori method – in an earth oven with hot stones. Pork, chicken, stuffing, potato, onion, cabbage, pumpkin and sweet potato cooked by steam, fuelled by the hot stones under the earth. Beautifully flavoured and melt in your mouth delicious.
My 39 year old Auburn haired, white skinned part Maori self tried her first Hangi in the suburb of Redfern, Sydney, Australia. Oh how my friend and I laughed at that, we laughed hard. Though better late than never.
In celebration of Waitangi Day (celebrated in NZ on 6 February) Sydney’s Maori communities held their own celebrations around town. I found myself outside a Maori church ‘Te Wairua Tapu’ in Redfern (which I had no idea existed) listening to the beautiful singing of the congregation. A friend Mel, her two kids and I waited as the food was dished out and we paid our ten dollars for a pocket of goodness.
And just like that I had joined in and tasted something new. My foodie self just loves the way that food, community, culture and family are SO inextricably connected. Using my taste buds was a great way to dip my toes in the water.