Remember the days when kids gathered to watch the men pull up the hangi. Back in the 70s it was the ultimate time of every occasion. The hangi would be set as per usual... but wrapping the meat was... how should I put it... not quite as professional as today... the baskets weren’t so robust either... but when the hangi was uncovered and removed from the pit... all us kids would rush in to retrieve any meat stuck to the red hot rocks. Back in those days there was always heaps. We were super tuff back then... the heat from the rocks was no deterrent... some of us were in bare feet and some tried the snatch grab approach... run off with the rock (haha). It was awesome anyway... and one of my favourite childhood memories.
It’s not ‘PC’ having kids hang around the hangi pit these days... but back then... PC still meant Police Constable... back then if you stepped out of line... if you ‘F’ up accidentally on purpose... you got a swift kick up the arse (or 2)... there and then... from almost anyone... how bloody un-PC is that... no need for the Police Constable BUT... that was just the village... raising the child. I was raised by that village... and met that boot... but more importantly I was raised by an over-whelming sense of belonging... of being included... of being supported... and being valued as a member of the whanau, hapu and iwi. Taku he ki te huatea... no muri te huauri.
THE HANGI or earth oven is pretty basic. A pit is dug maybe a couple of feet deep or so. This is done to channel the heat upward. When the fire and hot rocks are placed in the pit... the surrounding compact soil helps focus the heat upwards and through the food etc. Of course the rocks need to be heated and this will take a couple hours. You would stack enough wood (see inset) to burn for 2 hours... then place all your rocks on top. The stones need to be red hot when you set your hangi.
Make sure the pit is clean before you lay the rocks in place. You don’t want dust to mix with the steam etc. Lay most of the rocks along the bottom... but leave some of the smaller rocks to place between the food parcels to help disperse the heat. When the rocks are in place start adding the food baskets. Remember put some of the small rocks in amongst the parcels. Back in the old days... the food was all wrapped in leaves... today we tend to use tinfoil. Stack the baskets in place and add any further items to the top. Now take your inner cloth... (all cloths should be soaking in water while the rocks are being heated) and completely cover the stack of food.
Make sure the inner cover is wrapped tight and well tucked in. Back in the day we would have used large leaves to completely cover the food but today we use heavy cloth. Cover the whole pile with the heavier cloth... as many as needed to make sure it’s well covered... Make sure the steam stays in and the soil stays out. Add water... it’s important the steam is really pumping at this point. Now cover the whole thing with about 6 inches of soil... or at least until any steam leaks are stopped... Timings and basic protocols tend to differ from place to place.
Of course all iwi are different... every hapu... every whanau and every marae has its own way of doing things... different timings... different food preferences... different ways of covering the food... different ways of heating up the rocks... even different methods of achieving the steaming process... AND we’d like you to share your experience... tell us how you guys do it back home.
Let us know your tips for a good hangi... ahakoa te aha... your tips about your iwi protocols... your tips about whanau methods... your tips about which food is best etc. Make your comments below... If you start with the words TIP: I’ll add that korero right here... so all those who share this post can get a better idea of tribal defences etc... Be an awesome resource... tera pea ka korero i te reo... he pai tena... kei a koe te tikanga... MAURIORA WHANAU
WARREN POHATU CREATIVE: ONLINE IWI 2013