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A hole in the ground, with baskets full of hessian sacks inside them.

Overview / Tirohanga whānui

Hāngī is a traditional Māori method of cooking where food is cooked in the ground. The origins of the hāngī can be found in the umu (earth ovens) of ancient Polynesia. The cooking method involves creating a special steam oven in the ground where the food is gently cooked for three to four hours. The total time for completing a hāngī is between six to eight hours.

Hāngī cooking gives your food an earthy and smoky flavour, whilst keeping your meat and veggies deliciously tender.

The following guide has been created with support from Hone Hurihanganui, Director of Engaging Well.

Tip: Try using Mānuka or Kānuka firewood, which will release a fragrant smoke and add incredible flavour to the food.

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, ear muffs, gloves and mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment. If you’re planning to build a hāngī in a rural area, you will need to apply for a fire permit from your local council. When selecting an area for your hāngī, find a space that is a safe distance away from vegetation and buildings. When it comes time to light your fire, have a hose, fire extinguisher and buckets of water within arm’s reach in case the fire gets out of hand and you need to put it out.


Ko te hāngī he momo mahinga tunu kai nā te iwi Māori, ka tunua te kai ki roto i te whenua. I takea mai te mahi hāngī i Te Moana nui a Kiwa me ā rātou mahi umu. Ka whakamahia he rautaki korohū hei tunu i te kai ki roto i te whenua mō ngā haora e 3-4.

Ka kaha rongo i te tāwara oneone, auahi hoki i te hāngī, ā, ka ngāore, ka reka tonu ngā mīti me ngā huawhenua.

He arataki ēnei nā te Director of Engaging Well, nā Hone Hurihanganui i tautoko ki te whakamahere.

Kupu tautoko: He pai ake te whakamahi i te rākau mānuka, kānuka rānei hei tahu i te ahi kia rongo i te reka o te auahi, ā, ka whakareka hoki tērā i te kai.

Kupu whakahaumaru: Me tika te āhua o ngā kākahu ka whakamaua i a koe e mahi hāngī ana (ngā mōhiti ārai, ngā pū taringa, ngā karapu me te ārai kanohi hoki). Whāia hoki ngā tohutohu kua whakamāramatia mō te rauemi rā. Me whai whakaaetanga i te kaunihera inā e tunu hāngī ana koe i te tuawhenua. Me tūpato i a koe e whakarite ana i tō wāhi tahu i te hāngī, kia kaua e tata ki ngā mea ka mura pea i te ahi. Me whakaritea he ngongo wai, he patara whakapoko ahi me tētahi oko wai i mua i te hika i te ahi, kei hora te ahi, ā, me tīnei te ahi.

Tools and materials / Ngā taputapu a ngā rawa

Steps / Taahiraa

1Set up the fire pit / Whakarite i te rua

Using four bamboo dowels as a guideline, place them into the ground to create a rectangle that is 1m wide by 2m long.

Dig the pit until it is 1m deep, setting the soil to the side for later. Once you’ve finished digging, remove the dowels. (You won’t need these again.)


Pou ētahi pou rākau kia tapawha hāngai 1m te whānui, 2m te whāroa hei aratohu.

Keria he rua 1m te hohonu, ā, apoa te paru ki tētahi taha. Kia mutu te keri i te rua, tangohia ngā pou aratohu.

People digging a hole.

Take your firewood and place it inside the pit, with larger pieces stacked across the outer edges and smaller pieces on the inside. Keep stacking the firewood upwards to create a triangular shape.

Fill in any gaps and holes with kindling and brush; these will catch fire quickly and help to light up the smaller pieces of firewood. Take your newspaper (which will burn the fastest) and scrunch it into balls. Place the balls of newspaper and your firelighters between the wood and kindling.


Roua ngā toutou ki roto i te rua. Whakatakotoria ngā wahanga rākau nui ki ngā tahataha o te rua, ā, ka noho ngā wāhanga whīroki ki waenganui. Kia rite tonu te whakaraupapa i ngā wāhie kia tapatoru te āhua o te hanga.

Whakakīkīhia ngā āputa ki ngā toutou, ngā peka rākau rānei, ko ēnei ngā kaiwhakamura i te ahi, ā, ka tautoko hoki kia hika i ngā wāhie. Kōnatunatua te niupepa, kātahi ka raua ērā, me ngā hinu hika ahi ki waenga nui i ngā toutou me ngā wāhie.

People digging a hole and laying logs across the hole.

Lastly, spread your rocks out evenly on top of the pile of wood. We recommend using volcanic rocks as they can absorb extremely hot heat and cook your food evenly. If you don’t have access to volcanic rocks, you can use basalt rocks or scrap iron for a similar effect.

Now that your fire pit is built, you’re ready to light it. Ignite the firelighters and newspaper. Keep an eye on the rocks/scrap iron, periodically checking to see if you need to move them onto larger pieces of firewood to heat them evenly. Use your fire rod to do this.

The heating process takes three to four hours in order to heat the rocks enough to cook your food.


Kātahi ko te mahi whakamutunga he āta hora i ngā kōhatu ki runga i ngā rākau. Ko te painga kē atu ka whakamahia he toka puia nā tōna pai ki te whakawera me te tunu i te kai. Inā kāore o toka puia, he pai tonu te whakamahi i te ōnewa, i ngā whiunga rino rānei.

Kua rite ināianei kia hika i te ahi.

Hikaia te ahi mā te hika i te niupepa rānei, i te hinu hika ahi rānei. Āta mātakihia ngā kōhatu me ngā rino, tērā pea he wā ia me whakanekea ēnei kia pātata ake ki te ahi e wera ai. Whakamahia he tao mō tēnei mahi.

Ka 3-4 haora te roa kia werahia ngā kōhatu e rite ai ki te tunu i te kai.

Logs stacked on top of a dirt patch, with smoke coming out of the pile.

2Soak hessian sacks / Rūmaki whāriki peke rīwai

Wet hessian sacks are non-flammable. When combined with the hot stones/iron, they will create the steam to cook your food.

Submerge your hessian sacks in buckets of water so that they are fully soaked. Take care to make sure that the sacks have no dry areas.


Kāore ngā whāriki pēke rīwai mākū e mura ki pā ki ngā kōhatu/rino wera. Ko te korohū ka puta i te whāriki mākū ka tunu i te kai.

Raua te whariki ki roto i tētahi oko wai kia mākū ai. Āta titiro kia mātua mākū ngā wahanga katoa.

Hessian sacks being covered in water.

3Prepare the kai / Whakarite kai

While the fire burns and the rocks heat up, it’s time to prepare the kai (food).

Hāngī food traditionally uses fish and kumara (sweet potato), but you can use pork, lamb, seafood, potato, pumpkin, cabbage, etc.

Vegetables: Chop up your root vegetables into large, evenly sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper and your choice of dried herbs; toss with butter or oil. Wrap your veggies up inside the mutton cloth.

If you’re using cabbage or spinach, remove the core and season with salt, pepper and your choice of dried herbs. Take knobs of butter and place them between the leaves before placing them inside the mutton cloth.

Meat: Season your choice of meat or seafood with oil, salt, pepper and your choice of dry or fresh herbs. You can also use any other varieties of meat seasonings or dressings if you prefer.


Whakaritea ngā kai i te ahi e tahu ana.

Ko te ika me te kūmara ngā kai Māori i whakamahia i roto i ngā hāngī taketake, heoi he pai te whakamahinga o te poaka, te hipi, te kaimoana, rīwai, te paukena me te kāpiti.

Mō ngā huawhenua: Tapahia ngā huawhenua ki ngā wahanga ōrite. Mirimiria ngā huawhenua ki te tote, te pepa me ētahi rau amiami, ā, ka tāpiritia he pata, he hinu rānei. Raua ngā huawhenua ki roto i ngā pēke muka.

Mēnā kei te whakamahia te kāpiti, te rengarenga rānei, tangohia te iho o ngā tipu, ā, ka mirimiria ki te tote, te pepa, me ngā rau amiami. Tāpiritia te pata kātahi ka raua ki roto i ngā pēke muka.

Mo te mīti: Mirimiria te tote, te pepa me ngā rau amiami ki ngā mīti me ngā kaimoana rānei. He pai hoki ki te hiahia te tāpiri i ngā kīnaki mīti katoa.

A container filled with food, being put into a cloth bag.

4Fill the baskets / Whakakī i ngā oko

Once you’ve finished prepping the kai, it’s time to fill your metal baskets with the food.

Line each basket evenly with puka leaves or aluminium foil. This will help your food stay moist and succulent, while preventing it from burning and sticking.

Place your meat directly into the basket, followed by seafood, then root vegetables and top with the lighter veggies like cabbage and spinach. Set aside.


Kia mutu te whakariterite i ngā kai, kua rite ki te rau i ngā kai ki ngā oko.

Whakatakotohia ngā rau puka rānei, te pepa konganuku rānei. Ka tautoko tēnei i te tununga o te kai, kia ngaore te kai, ā, kia kaua hoki te kai e piri ki te oko.

Raua tuatahitia ko ngā miti, kātahi ko ngā kaimoana, ko ngā huawhenua, ā, ko ngā kapiti whakamutunga. Kātahi ka waiho ki te taha.

Pork shoulders in a basket covered with foil.

5Prepare the oven / Whakaritea te umu

After three to four hours, your hāngī oven should be ready.

Wearing protective gear, remove any remaining embers from the pit with your spade. You should be left with hot rocks/scrap iron and some ash. Space these evenly around the base of the pit.

Place baskets on top and cover well with the wet hessian sacks. Ensure the entire surface is covered, overlapping where necessary.

Cover the baskets and wet hessian sacks with the soil you put aside earlier. Pile it high until no steam is able to escape from the pit (otherwise your food won’t cook properly).


I muri i te 3-4 haora, kua rite te umu o te hāngī.

Whakamaua ngā kakahu haumaru, ā, whakamahia he kō hei tango i ngā ngārehu i te rua. Ka toe mai ko ngā kōhatu/rino wera me ētahi pungarehu. Whakawehea ēnei kia rite te takoto i te rua.

Whakatakotohia ngā oko kai ki runga i ngā kōhatu/rino, kātahi ka uhi ki ngā whāriki pēke rīwai. Me uhi katoa te rua ki ngā whāriki, kei te pai mēnā me whakatakoto i ētahi whāriki ki runga i tētahi atu.

Uhia ngā whāriki ki te paruparu i apohia i a koe e keri ana i te rua. Uhia katoa ki te paru kia kaua te korohū e puta (kei kore rānei te kai e tunu).

A person standing over a hangi, with smoke coming out of it.

Leave the food to cook for three to four hours. Check periodically to ensure no steam is escaping; if it is, cover with more soil.

Once the food is cooked, put on a pair of fire-proof gloves and carefully remove the soil with your spade and peel back the hessian sacks. Be very careful of hot steam!

Remove your baskets from the pit and set aside. Pour the buckets of water over the stones to release any residual heat.


Tunua te kai mō te 3-4 haora. Āta mataki tonu i te rua kia kite kāore te korohū i te puta. Ki te kite i te korohū e puta ana, uhia ki te paru.

Kia rite te kai, āta tangohia te paru mā te kō. Kātahi ka āta kume i ngā whāriki pēke rīwai kia kaua te paru e kuhu ki te kai. Kia tūpato i te wera.

Tangohia ngā oko i te rua. Tāhorotia te oko wai ki runga i ngā kōhatu kia whakamātao.

A hole in the ground, with baskets full of hessian sacks inside them.

Your food is now ready to serve. Remove the food from the baskets and enjoy with your family and friends. Ka pai!


Kua rite ki te hora i ngā kai. Tangohia ngā kai i ngā oko, ā, ka hora hei kai mā te whānau me ngā hoa.

A person serving food onto a plate.

A special thank you to Ōtāhuhu College, their staff and students for hosting our team and helping us with this project. 


He mihi nui ki ngā ākonga me ngā kaimahi o te kura tuarua o Ōtāhuhu, nā koutou mātau i tautoko i roto i ngā mahi nei.

6Keen to explore more outdoor cooking ideas? / Karanga Whakatutuki

Check out more of our helpful guides and recipes for cooking with a BBQ or smoker.

 

Kei te hiahia whakarite hāngī Māori? Whāia tā mātau tohutaka kia tunua tāu anō ki te kāinga.

Suggested products / He rawa nō tō mātau toa

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.