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No 3. (Summer 1953)
– 48 –


The health of a nation depends to no small extent on the foods its people eat, and the traditional foods of the Maori played an important part in building a strong and healthy race. Unfortunately, few of these foods are available today, and so they have had to be almost entirely replaced by pakeha foods. It is obviously important that the foods now eaten should be as good as the old Maori foods, but this is not always the case. White bread, sugar and biscuits are poor substitutes for such foods as eel flesh, puha and kumera.

A survey of Maori diets published in 1945 stated that ‘too little milk, cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables, and whole cereals’ were eaten. All these are ‘protective foods’, so called because they help to protect the body against disease; and, with meat and fish, these are the only pakeha foods which can take the place of the true Maori foods. They are essential for the health of the adult, and they are very, very important foods for growing children.


Milk and cheese are the only foods which give enough of the bone and teeth building materials which children need. All children should have several cups of milk to drink a day, as well as milk on porridge and in puddings. Adults, too, should have some milk every day, and expectant and nursing mothers need as much as the children. When fresh milk is not obtainable dried milk, rather than sweetened condensed milk, should be used. Cheese should be eaten frequently, and it is much better than jam as a sandwich filling for school lunches.

Eggs, like the organ-meats–such as liver and kidneys–provide materials which build good healthy blood. Women and children have the greatest need for these foods, for it is they who are most likely to suffer from anaemia, a disease which can often be prevented by giving these good blood-building foods.


Fruit and vegetables are necessary for healthy skins and gums. Sores and cuts heal more quickly when fruit and vegetables are eaten every day. Puha, kumera and watercress are among the most valuable of vegetables, and should be eaten as often as possible. When these are not available, use potatoes and another vegetable–such as cabbage, pumpkin, etc. Everyone should have some raw fruit every day, but if you cannot get this, use some extra vegetable. Tomatoes can be used in place of fruit, and it is wise to bottle tomatoes when they are cheap, for use in the winter and spring, when fruit is scarce.

Some whole cereal, such as brown bread and oatmeal, should be eaten every day. Oatmeal is a valuable food, and served with milk it makes a very good breakfast. Everyone needs breakfast. Oatmeal porridge and milk make a much better start to the day than tea and bread.

Iodised salt should always be used, both for cooking and on the table at meal times.


Today we have such a wide choice of foods, some so much more valuable than others, that it is necessary to know how to choose wisely if we are to get the best value for our money, and the right foods for health.