Make your Te Reo Ka Pai with Kai

Huarekawhenua – Pleasant dish of the earth. Image: Supplied.

The team at 5+ A Day are celebrating Maori language by promoting the importance of eating fresh fruit and vegetables for well-being – nga huarakau me nga huawhenua mot e oranga – and encouraging the use of te reo Maori at kai time.

The theme for Te Wiki o te Reo Maori is ‘Kai Kaha te Reo Maori’, offering encouragement to all New Zealanders to take part in activities to make the Maori language strong, so why not take the opportunity to strengthen our bodies and our overall health as well as preserving and nurturing the Maori language.

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust have developed new te reo posters promoting seasonal fruit and vegetables for better health and well-being – as well as encouraging the use of te reo. To teach the link between fruit and vegetables and well-being to tamariki at kura, kohanga reo and early childhood centres, 5+ A Day are sending out the new posters for display, and also sending carrot and spinach seeds, kindly donated by South Pacific Seeds New Zealand.

The posters are also available to order free-of-charge from

Senior account manager at the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust Stephanie Wrathall, says research shows that when children are involved in growing vegetables, they are more likely to eat them.

“Growing produce also teaches children where their fruit and vegetables come from, so this is a great opportunity for local kura and kohanga reo to plant some carrot and spinach and educate their tamariki to eat 5+ A Day for greater well-being.”

In addition to the posters and seeds, two recipes have been developed so we can all have a go at cooking and enjoying healthy kai.

“We engaged Patrick Salmon, My Kitchen Rules 2018 contestant, to create two Maori-inspired recipes for Maori Language Week. These recipes showcase delicious traditional flavours with a contemporary twist,” says Stephanie.

The fresh and hearty Huarekawhenua salad recipe highlights traditional produce like kumara, carrot and horopito, while Kairua is an asparagus, kumara and potato gratin which features seasonal asparagus and kawakawa – a flavoursome herb historically favoured in Maori medicine.

More recipes are available at

As you’re heading to the supermarket, preparing dinner, or sitting down to enjoy a meal this week, take the time to discuss the Maori terms for your fruit and vegetables.

Bring the philosophy of ‘Kia Kaha’ to your table by combining te reo with eating five or more servings of colourful, fresh fruit and vegetables every day for health and well-being.

Huarekawhenua – Pleasant dish of the earth.

Serves: 2 mains or 4-6 sides

Salad ingredients:

3 medium kūmara, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1/2 large carrot, cut into thick chunks

60g fresh spinach

1/2 red onion, sliced chunky

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

4 sundried tomato strips, finely chopped

½ teaspoon chia seeds

Drizzle of olive oil

Salt and pepper to season

Horopito and lemon dressing ingredients:

¾ cup water

¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

A good handful of fresh or dried horopito leaves

3–6 cloves garlic, according to taste

¼ red capsicum

1/3 medium-sized carrot
1 tablespoon cornflour

10–15cm fresh ginger

Juice and rind of 3 lemons

Salad method:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C

2. Wash and chop kūmara then place into an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.

3. Once baked, add the carrot and red onion to the ovenproof dish and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the carrot and red onion has softened and the kūmara is cooked through.

4. In a bowl, add the cooked kūmara, carrot, red onion, spinach, sunflower seeds and chia seeds. Pour the horopito and lemon dressing (method below) on top and mix everything together. Fold in sundried tomatoes. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Serve hot or cold as a meal or side dish.

Dressing method:

1. Put the water, vinegar, sugar and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2. Add the fresh or dried horopito leaves. You may want to tear them up a little to help them release their heat and flavour.

3. Simmer for 5–10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, finely chop or mince the garlic cloves, de-seed and chop the capsicum as finely as possible and finely grate the carrot. Add lemon juice and rind.

5. Strain the horopito from the liquid.

6. Add the garlic, capsicum and carrot to the liquid and simmer for another 5–10 minutes.
7. Mix the cornflour with two tablespoons of water and stir it into the hot liquid.
8. Simmer the mix for another minute or so until the cornflour is cooked. The liquid will be translucent.
9. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
10. Grate the fresh ginger and, by hand, squeeze the juice from the gratings into the saucepan and stir to combine.
11. Pour the hot sauce into hot, sterilised jars to cool.

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