The traditional foods of the Maori people built splendid men and fine looking, strong women and all of these foods were gathered from New Zealand's soil or waters. With the coming of the pakeha and his food, however, the Maori people are forgetting some of their own foods and adopting more and more of the pakeha foods.
But Maori food is good, very good. Kumaras are, in almost all respects, as valuable to the body as the white potato. Of course, if kumaras, or potatoes, are peeled thickly much of the nourishment is lost. The best way of all to cook kumaras is in a Maori oven, in their skins, after careful washing. Every Maori knows that this is the way to get the true flavour of kumaras.
Secondly, puha or rauriki, is a green vegetable which can be compared favourably with cabbage, silver beet or spinach. In addition the Maori method of cooking puha, in which all the liquid is drunk, is superior to the common pakeha practice of straining off and throwing away the vegetable water. The more puha is eaten the better.
The Maori people have always been great fish eaters. May they ever remain as fond of it for fish is a fine food—one of those which build strong muscles. Octopus, sea eggs, rock oysters, crayfish, kuku paua, pipis, toheroas, pupurore—only milk beats these as a body building food; they are much better than red meat for building strong bones and teeth.
Again, New Zealand coastal waters are rich in such fish as hapuku, rawaru, tarakihi, snapper, kahawai, mango, patiki, kuparu, kanae, tope and countless others. Fish since mankind began has been one of his staple foods if he was fortunate enough to live near the sea or a river, and if he did not he was prepared to barter much of his possessions for the precious fish, or dried fish. Long before we knew anything about the components of foods we knew that fish was good for building muscles and for preventing the disease known as goitre.
Fresh water eels should never be despised for they, like the oil from the livers of fish, contain a substance which makes our bones strong and straight and helps to keep our teeth free from decay.
Pakeha food such as meat, bread and tea has come and come to stay, but do not neglect your own excellent foods, your puha, your fish and your kumaras.