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Pātea Hangi's garlic and mussel pie.

Pātea Hangi’s garlic and mussel pie.
Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

Times are tough in the hospitality sector, but in South Taranaki one start-up eatery is bucking the trend.

The Pātea Hangi shop opened recently, offering a selection of kai Māori alongside more traditional fast food offerings.

Duty manager Carol Turner said it had something for everyone.

“We do beautiful hangi, which is steamed and smoked, and we do a boil-up with local bacon bones from the butcher in Pātea. We have our secret recipe fry bread that is very very popular.

“Mussels and raw fish and your favourite desserts – some trifle and steam pudding with ambrosia – and we’ve just started, a couple of days ago, a fish and chip menu.”

Pātea Hangi duty manager Carol Turner.

Pātea Hangi duty manager Carol Turner.
Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

But Turner said the business – started by local couple Kushette Jelley and Leroy Thompson – was about more than simply filling bellies.

“[It’s] to get a bit more happening in the community here. It’s somewhere for the community here, locals to come to have a chat and share some kai and for people passing through, just nice and convenient and something quite unique and original.”

Jasmine Tutahione was on board.

“Just the kaupapa of being passionate about community, passionate about kai Māori and being in Pātea. I think it just brings a lot of life back to a community that a lot of people say died when the freezing works finished, so it’s really lively, it’s really beautiful.”

She was a sucker for one particular item on the menu.

Jasmine Tutahione loves the kaupapa of the Pātea Hangi shop almost as much as she does its fry bread.

Jasmine Tutahione loves the kaupapa of the Pātea Hangi shop almost as much as she does its fry bread.
Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

“I just saw on Facebook that they were doing pulled pork pies, so I’ve got to try those, but tried and true hangi and the fry bread. I’ve got to have the fry bread.

“They do those dirty fry breads [filled with chocolate] but I’m just like a classic gal, so I like the really warm just straight out of the oven or wherever it comes from, then go home golden syrup and butter.”

Edith Cheetham had a preference too.

“I mean I love the boil-up so that’s my favourite, but I’m trying the pulled pork today.”

She said the secret to the perfect boil-up was the watercress.

Edith Cheetham is a fan of the Pātea Hangi shop's boil-up, but was giving its pulled pork pie a try.

Edith Cheetham is a fan of the Pātea Hangi shop’s boil-up, but was giving its pulled pork pie a try.
Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

Turner said there were a selection of pies, too: A hangi pie, a boil-up pie, smoked fish, pulled pork, and garlic and mussel.

“The hangi pie and the boil-up pie are perfect. Everything that’s in the hangi and boil-up without the bones, so it’s a grab and go great for people on the run.”

But not everyone was convinced about the kai Māori offerings just yet.

Danish New Zealander Nikki Holdem and Spanish partner Younji Fontinele were taking a more conservative approach, and said they would likely order a burger.

Hangi was off the menu – for now at least.

“I’m not really familiar with hangi. Like, I think I remember trying hangi when I was at primary school once ages ago, but yeah, maybe one day.”

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