Acknowledged by Lonely Planet as one of the top Māori attractions in New Zealand, the Kāwhia Kai Festival is a full celebration of the indigenous culture with particular focus on native Māori food.

Locals call Kāwhia “kai food heaven” because of the plentiful supplies of seafood and wild game, and festival-goers feast on wild pork, a wide array of New Zealand shellfish as well as mud snails.

Held in early February, the festival is timed to coincide with New Zealand’s national holiday – Waitangi Day – on 6 February.

Each year more than 2500 kono / traditional flax baskets are specially woven to serve up portions of delicious hangi kai which has been cooked in a series of gigantic underground ovens – often required to feed more than 10,000 visitors.

Kāwhia, a coastal town in the central North Island of New Zealand, is the spiritual home of the Māori Tainui tribe and the resting place of their waka / ceremonial canoe.

On the menu: toroi / marinated mussels and puha / watercress, inanga / whitebait patties, kanga wai /pirau fermented corn, wild pork and puha spring rolls, koki / shark liver pate, and mud snails.

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