We decided to spend Waitangi Day this year with friends on the other side of the island. Waitangi Day is a celebration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the English and the Maori, and is on February 6 each year. When we first talked about visiting these friends that weekend, I mentioned that Esther wanted to come home in time to go to the hangi in Greymouth. This is a big community picnic; a hangi is a traditional Maori way of cooking food by digging a hole and lighting a fire in it to heat up rocks (or large pieces of metal). The food is placed on the hot rocks, the hole is filled in with dirt and left for several hours, and then the food is dug up to be eaten. Our friends decided to have a hangi themselves, so that we could all experience it together, and as it turned out, the one in Greymouth was canceled due to heavy rain, so it worked out very well to stay there.
The children went swimming, and then warmed up by the fire. Notice James’s seat?
They tossed some old freezer baskets into the fire and burned off the plastic coating, and then we lined them with foil.
We put the meat in the foil-lined baskets, topped with pumpkin chunks and potatoes.
When the fire had burned down enough, the big embers were raked out. James was still supervising from his wheelbarrow!
After covering the baskets with cabbage leaves, they were lowered into the hole on top of the coals.
Next, wet sheets and wool blankets were put on top of the baskets.
After covering the blankets with wet burlap bags, the dirt was shoveled over everything, and we left it for about three hours.
Is it ready? Only one way to find out! They started digging the dirt out again.
All that wet cloth kept the food baskets clean.
We opened the baskets to check. What a delicious smell! The meat was cooked, but the vegetables weren’t quite done. We should have left it another half an hour and it would have been perfect. We finished the cooking in the house.
Everyone enjoyed the feast! Notice that Simon’s arm is in a sling. He came off his bicycle in January and broke his collar bone. This picture was taken two weeks after the accident.
We finished the evening with a round of singing children’s Sunday school songs. Everyone enjoyed that very much!