By Emily Norman
Ever wanted to cook a hangi, but didn’t have the gear to make it with?
A hangi starter kit, created by a Carterton family may be the answer.
Narida Hooper has taken her Hangi Kete concept to market, a ‘DIY hangi kit’ comprising a large welded steel basket, hand-collected volcanic rocks, two hessian sacks, and 5m of muslin cloth.
She said the idea came about just before Christmas when her nephew wanted to put down a hangi, but didn’t have any of his own gear.
“I thought good on you for thinking about it, but he had nothing, he had no basket, no sacks, he didn’t even know what the rocks looked like,” Mrs Hooper said.
She said her nephew was able to borrow equipment from extended family in time for the Christmastime hangi, but after that, she realised there could be a niche in the market for an all-in-one starter kit.
With the help of her husband, she created four kits ready to sell.
But based on the product’s warm reception from customers, she might have to start pumping out more stock soon.
“We made them knowing you could feed about 50 people using one basket,” she said.
“All you need is your meat, vegetables, and firewood.”
“We’d seen people on TradeMe sell separate components, like a stack of rocks, or individual baskets too, but if you were to buy all the separate components, you’d be spending well into $200.”
She is selling the Hangi Kete for $140.
“I know these will sell . . . people really like the idea.”
Mrs Hooper, nee Rei, is selling the Hangi Kete to raise funds for a 5-yearly family reunion she helps to organise up in Taranaki.
“Our Rei family lineage takes us back to Manaia, so we have a reunion every five years to celebrate our whakapapa,” she said.
“We raise money for that by making things and selling them, and we use that money to run the reunion, buy food, give koha to the Marae.
“Our last reunion was last Easter over four days, and we had about 180 people on the main day which was Easter Sunday.”
Mrs Hooper said hangi had a unique flavour, and she talked through the steps to creating a perfect cook-up.
“You dig a hole in the ground, just a little bit deeper than the basket, and then you need to start a fire.
“Put a hardwood down like manuka and put the rocks out throughout the timber.”
As the wood burns down, the rocks heat up at the same time, creating “a fierce fire”, she said.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of the fire, because it needs to get the rocks really hot.”
Once the fire dies down, the ash must be shovelled out – the rocks should still be glowing hot.
She said soaked watercress is usually put down on the rocks to create steam, and then the steel basket goes on top of that, containing meats, and vegetables, which are wrapped in muslin.
“Then you put watercress on the top again,” Mrs Hooper said.
“Lots of families cover the whole basket with a bit of cotton sheet or hessian to make sure no dirt gets in there, and then you shovel the dirt back over the top.
“You keep packing it down and if you see any steam rising through, cover it with dirt again.
“You want to cook it all for about three hours.”
Mrs Hooper has received a lot of interest online about the Hangi Kete, which she posted about on a Facebook buy and sell group last week.