(Source | Waikato Times – Ben Stanley) A shortage of koki (shark’s liver) proved the only hiccup in this year’s Kawhia Kai Festival, as thousands flocked to sample traditional and contemporary Maori food.
Organiser Hinga Whiu said supplies of koki ran short early in the day while mussel and whitebait fritters also proved popular at the festival, held at Omiti Reserve on Saturday.
Toroi (marinated mussels and puha), creamed paua and kina, kanga wai/pirau (fermented corn), puha and pork spring rolls, pawhara (smoked fish and eel) were also some of the more popular dishes, while the largest collective hangi in the country provided more basic kai for the festival punters.
Mrs Whiu said she was “very happy” with crowd numbers, and humbled by the effort people made to get to Kawhia.
“All these people have come to Kawhia, a little coastal town with 400 people, from all over the world.
“It’s really cool,” Mrs Whiu said.
“People eating and enjoying themselves, all the kids jumping off the wharf into the water… you can’t ask for anything better.”
Tourists from France, England and Canada were among those mixing with local people in the small west coast community, attracted, no doubt, by the festival’s mention in the latest edition of the Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand.
The day’s entertainment included performances by Kiwi reggae groups NRG Rising and Zionhill, while soloists Tasty Brown, Stingray, Tania Smith, Statik West and Shine Forum kept the crowd in a buoyant mood.