In 2015, Nathen Pore, Chris Muraahi and Kareem Toomata visited Queen Victoria Market, expecting to find food from the Pacific Islands.
There was none, and further research around Melbourne revealed very little authentic food from their home, the North Island of New Zealand.
So the trio set out to promote authentic Māori food and culture in Melbourne, launching the Hangi Boys Kiwi Kitchen two years ago.
“That’s what makes us so unique, we are one of kind,” says Muraahi.
Hangi is a traditional Māori method of cooking, involving a hot stone pit in the ground, which slow-cooks meat and vegetables until they’re tender and smoky.
“Traditional hangi is cooked underground. You use volcanic rock, put the food into baskets, and then bury it. It takes four to six hours to cook this way,” Muraahi says. “We use huge steam cookers and smoke the food with Manuka woodchips, which is infused with native New Zealand spices like kawakawa basil.”
To celebrate Waitangi Day (a public holiday that commemorates the signing of the Waitangi Treaty, New Zealand’s founding document), the Hangi Boys are doing a pop-up at Section 8 this Sunday February 5.
The standout dishes are the hangi (made up of seasoned chicken, lamb and Kumara, a type of sweet potato eaten in New Zealand), which takes two days to prepare and four hours to cook; snapper ceviche served with coconut cream; and fry bread, which is deep-fried bread served with butter and syrup.
The bar will be stocked with Kiwi craft beers, including Steinlager Pure and Tui. Kiwi DJ’s Ed G & Pauly Who will be on the decks throughout the afternoon.
All leftover food will be given to community organisation, Awhi Melbourne, which distributes food to those in need.
The Hangi Boys Pop-up Kitchen is on from 12pm to 6pm on Sunday February 5 at Section 8, 27–29 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne.