Traditional Maori Recipes


Traditional Maori Recipes
From Pork and Puha to Rewena Paraoa, these recipes are steeped in Maori culture, history and tradition and are sure to impress your dinner guests.

From Pork and Puha to Rewena Paraoa, these traditional Maori recipes are sure to impress your dinner guests.


Paua is the Maori name given to a large edible shelled sea snail found on the coast of New Zealand. It belongs to the sealife family Haliotidae (genus Haliotis) and are also known in the USA as abalone, and in the UK as ormer shells.

Maori recognise Paua as taonga, or treasure, and shellfish is valued both as kai moana (seafood) and as a resource for traditional and contemporary arts and crafts. Paua shell is frequently used to represent the eyes in Maori carvings around the Marae.

Fresh Paua also makes for a tasty seafood treat.

1 Prepare 1 chopped onion and 6 pauas (without shells) by cutting into manageable cubes and mincing (preferably through an old fashioned mincer).

2 To a mixing bowl: add to 1 cup of flour 1 teaspoon of baking powder, teaspoon of salt and 1 egg. Mix in the minced Paua and onion, as well as some finely chopped parsley, then add cup of milk or more to make a fritter mix (not too stiff).

3 Fry in oil at a low temperature and serve.

In Maori culture, eating food is synonymous with whanau (family) and togetherness. ISTOCK


The “boil-up” is a Maori method of cooking that boils root vegetables such as kumara and potatoes, puha (watercress) and spinach in a pork stock. Dumplings, also known as “doughboys”, or Maori bread usually accompany the meal to soak up the soupy goodness.

A bunch of puha (watercress)

1 pork tenderloin

1 kumara (sweet potato,) peeled and diced

1/2 white onion

6 baby tomatoes

3 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 litre of chicken stock

2 cups of water

1 tsp of sea salt

Pre-made pumpkin dumplings

1/2 kg of pork bones

1 Add the chicken stock, 2 cups of water and pork bones to a large stock pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour.

2 Soak the watercress in cold water for about 10 minutes and then wring it out to get rid of the bitter juices. Set aside.

3 Add the kumara, 1/2 white onion, tomatoes and spring onions to the soup stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4 Cut the pork filet into 1 inch slices and add to the stock. Add salt and lower heat and cover pot. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.

5 Finally, add the watercress and stir well. Remove the pork bones from the stock and discard.

6 To serve ladle the hot soup over the meat and vegetables and garnish with sliced spring onions.


Rewena Paraoa is a traditional Maori bread made with the use of rewa (potato) which gives bread firm texture. It is the perfect accompaniment to boil-ups, stews, casseroles and/or the traditionally cooked hangi. Rewena can be prepared in advance of any occasion, baked and also eaten hot with butter, jams and/or golden syrup or cold with a fresh pot of tea.

STEP ONE – Original Starter Plant/Bug:

Starter Plant is also known as Bug and/or Leavening

2 cups flour

3 medium potatoes

1 cup water

1 tsp sugar

Day one:

1 To make Starter Plant, Peel, slice and boil potato in 1 cup of water to mashing consistency. Mash potato thoroughly with any remaining water in pot & set aside.

2 When lukewarm add flour and sugar, mix all ingredients together to a fairly firm texture. Mixture should be a dough-like resemblance.

Cover and leave in a warm place to prove/ferment.

STEP TWO – Feeding your original Starter Plant daily

1 medium potato

1 cup water

1 tsp sugar

Day two and three:

1 To feed the above plant daily, peel, cut and boil potato in 1 cup of water. When boiled remove the potatoes and retain the liquid, set liquid aside until lukewarm.

2 Pour 1 cup of warm liquid mixed with 1 teaspoon of sugar into the starter plant (made the day before) and mix well. Store again in a warm place to continue in the proving/fermenting process.

3 Repeat this process on Day Three.

Note: On days 2 & 3 starter plant should resemble a thick creamy consistency similar to batter. The plant should rise and form bubbles, this is a good indicator the plant is ready for Step Three.

It is OK if plant has a sour odour to it. Do not discard it is fermenting well.

STEP THREE – Making Rewena Paraoa from the Starter Plant

5 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup water (approx.)

1 Pre-heat oven to 200c. Grease and lightly flour 2 Baking Trays (Pizza Trays are ideal) or 2 medium size (approx 20cms in diameter) Round Baking Tins and/or Loaf Tins- set aside.

2 In a large bowl sift flour and salt and make a well in the centre, pour in all of the Starter Plant and sprinkle baking soda over starter plant. Mix ingredients until combined adding extra water if required.

3 Turn out onto floured bench and knead lightly for approximately 10 minutes.

Take out a scoop (approx 2 dessert spoons) and use this to make another plant, following through with daily feeding as to Step Two – Day Two & Three. May require an additional cup (or 2) of sifted Plain Flour added to mixture to maintain a thick batter like consistency. By continuing this process you can always have a plant handy to make Rewena Paraoa every few days.

4 With the remaining dough, split in 1/2 and shape into baking tins or onto trays. Bake in pre-heated over for approximately 30-40 minutes or until golden.

5 Turn out of trays, slice and eat hot with butter, golden syrup, jam and a good cup of tea! Leftover Rewena is best covered with a clean damp tea-towel to maintain freshness.

You’ll also love this Maori Paraoa Parai recipe


Print Recipe


Let us keep you up to date with our weekly MiNDFOOD e-newsletters which include the weekly menu plan, health and news updates or tempt your taste buds with the MiNDFOOD Daily Recipe. 

Member Login