Culture and cuisine collide at Homeland’s new kai Māori dinner and theatre experience

The culturally-aware cohort in this City will have likely already nabbed their tickets for Auckland Theatre Company’s season of Witi’s Wahine this May. But, in an endeavour to enhance the theatrical experience and put kai Māori back on the map, Peter Gordon’s Homeland has announced the introduction of a set menu to run in conjunction with (and complementary to) the season, and the combination of the both leaves a lasting impression.

Left: Peter Gordon. Right: Pani puri with smoked kūmara yuzu hummus, olives and garlic labneh.

At Homeland, throughout the month of May, guests will be treated to a pre-show menu (even for those not actually attending the performance). This consists of a three-course meal, for which Gordon has drawn on traditional Māori culinary customs, alongside being inspired by some of his own restaurant’s signature dishes, to create some very welcome, new additions. The dining experience begins with an utterly moreish mini creamed pāua on toast, and a local take on Ika Mata, with mini raw fish, coconut, chilli jelly and sago crisp, while the main features hāngi pork belly (cooked all the way in Bethells Beach), wood roast kūmara, kawakawa hazelnut pesto and a necessary helping of greens. For dessert, Gordon’s mother’s secret pavlova recipe takes centre stage, served with kawakawa mascarpone, passionfruit curd and coconut crisps — one of the most delicious iterations of this dish we’ve ever tried.

Creamed pāua on toast with mini raw fish, coconut, chilli jelly and sago crisp.

Additionally, Witi’s Wāhine ticket holders to the show are treated to a special appetiser of pani puri with smoked kūmara yuzu hummus, olives and garlic labneh. It’s a menu that rings true to the Homeland ethos of embodying a ‘food embassy’ for New Zealand and the Pacific, harnessing some of our most delicious local produce, embracing traditional kai Māori cooking methods, and of course, adding a cheeky, modern spin on it, somewhat reminiscent of the kind of writing for which Witi Ihimaera himself has become so renowned.

Left: Homeland restaurant. Right: Hāngi pork belly, wood roast kūmara, kawakawa hazelnut pesto and greens.

Few New Zealand literary figures are as notable as Ihimaera, who has dedicated his career to telling stories guided by Māori women. In this Auckland Theatre Company production, Nancy Brunning’s story comes to life — a love song to the matriarchs of Ihimaera’s beloved works, and reflecting a celebrated version of our history too. The show itself, which acts almost as an anthology of the famed writer’s most powerful heroines, has taken on a new life of its own since the late Brunning penned it.

Left: Pavlova with kawakawa mascarpone, passionfruit curd and coconut crisps. Right: Witi Ihimaera.

Really, we are very lucky to have such a profound collision of culture and culinary excellence right on our doorsteps — one that celebrates our country’s rich and harrowed history, and presents it with the kind of joy we think is worth savouring. Bookings for Homeland’s special dinner are essential and can be made through the restaurant’s website here. Show tickets can be purchased from Auckland Theatre Company, here.

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