Kiwi Kai aims to bring traditional Maori food to the masses in Nelson

Nelson’s Kiwi Kai has gone from being a market stall to a bricks-and-mortar shop bringing Maori kai to the masses. Opening their doors to the public on Wednesday Kiwi Kai launched on Tuesday after a Maori blessing and a kapa haka performance.

Kiwi Kai Nelson business manager Reni Wereta-Gargiulo said they were very excited about being able to offer Maori food to Nelsonians through the shop.

“I’m noticing at the market that people want the food more than one day a week.

“So being able to offer our kai every day of the week is very exciting.”

Wereta-Gargiulo started Kiwi Kai in Nelson in 2009 and has since been a known-presence at the Nelson Saturday market as well as the Motueka market the last couple of months.

She said another business named itself Kiwi Kai in Rotorua five years ago, and recently they decided to merge the two businesses.

Kiwi Kai Rotorua business partner Chris Poipoi said the Nelson shop, in the old Tozzetti bakery site, was the first step towards building the Kiwi Kai brand into a franchise.

“It’s a massive journey that we’re realising. It’s very exciting and there’s emotions involved in it as well as relief that the shop is now open.”

The Rotorua Kiwi Kai was known for its steamed pudding, which they would make for the Nelson shop too.

In return, the Kiwi Kai in Rotorua would add seafood specialities to its menu.

Wereta-Gargiulo said she worked with four ingredients or less for all their dishes, and all products needed to be as natural and sustainable as possible.

She said she hoped Kiwi Kai would fill the gap as there wasn’t anywhere in Nelson where people could buy traditional Maori food.

“I hope people will enjoy it, most of the recipes are from our nanny.

“We’re noticing that other nationalities and tourists love [the food] too, such as Japanese and Chinese people, they want to try it out.”

Wereta-Gargiulo said Kiwi Kai’s mission was to make Maori food affordable and available to everyone.

“We want to grow, share our kai, for people to come back and talk about [Kiwi Kai].

“We’ve had a lot of local support around us, [people] who were really excited to see what we would make.”

Wereta-Gargiulo said she’d continue with her stall at the Saturday market.

“The Saturday market is what made us. And tourists go there who might not find our shop.”

Credit
This article was written by SARA MEIJ for Stuff.co.nz and first appeared in the Nelson Mail on July 19th, 2017.
Read the original article here.

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