Traditional kai arrives at the Papatoetoe Food Hub

Underground Hāngi is a new partner of the Food Hub Colletive. Photo / Facebook

The smell and taste of authentic hāngi can now be experienced in the heart of Old Papatoetoe thanks to the Papatoetoe Food Hub.

Underground Hāngi is a new partner of the Food Hub Collective, bringing with it traditional and unique hāngi creations. It joins Roots Creative Entrepreneurs, Kai Tupuna, Gia Grab&Go and other local guest chefs, as part of the collective.

Underground Hāngi was also supported with seed funding from The Generator, a Ministry of Social Development initiative. 

All kai is cooked onsite in an underground hāngi pit – a rarity since most commercial hāngi is cooked above ground.

Founder Jenita Marriott and her family started Underground Hāngi as a fundraising initiative several years ago and says the Papatoetoe Food Hub has provided a pathway to grow their food business.

 “The process of starting out in the food industry is filled with so many barriers and challenges,” says the Mangere East resident.

“From making sure you’re compliant with rules and regulations, to having a commercial kitchen space, you’re needing to tick a lot of boxes before you get to the actual creation of good kai. 

“That’s why the Food Hub is such an asset to South Auckland. With its people, resources and support it’s allowing locals to be part of a critical industry and provide healthier food options to the neighbourhoods we live and work in.”

Waikare Komene is the curator of the Papatoetoe Food Hub and says Underground Hāngi is one of several local food entrepreneurs using the facilities at the Food Hub.

“Our cause is to help entrepreneurs be self-sustaining, provide affordable and good kai, while empowering local people through choices and employment,” he says.

“Underground Hāngi is also bringing a traditional Māori cuisine back into the South Auckland food system. The experience of hāngi also brings people together, adding to the Food Hub’s purpose of creating a social space in the community for people to gather and interact.” 

Healthy Families South Auckland, The Southern Initiative and Panuku Development Auckland are some of the key supporters of the Papatoetoe Food Hub. 

“Underground Hāngi joining the collective reinforces that desire to change the food landscape here in South Auckland by restoring indigenous practices that have always been steeped in sustainability and healthy living,” says Healthy Families South Auckland manager George Makapatama.

“This is another step towards the purpose of making healthier food accessible, desirable and affordable to the local community while creating a hub where people can connect, learn and share concepts and ideas related to food.”