Feeding the thousands

Stan Tawa.

Stan Tawa.

Stan Tawa (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Awa, Te Arawa) is a man who can handle the heat in the kitchen.

As catering coordinator for Te Matatini 2015 in Christchurch, Stan will be in charge of supervising the large hākari – a first for Te Matatini and a massive job for the hosts, Waitaha Cultural Council.

The council has a team of dedicated people who are ready for the challenge and Stan and his team will be catering for up to 7,000 manuhiri after the welcoming pōwhiri. The kai served will be distinctively southern.

As well as feeding the visitors, they will also be providing food and beverages for around 400 volunteer kaimahi, 250 kaumātua and 450 VIP guests per day, for the five days of the festival. Some volunteers will arrive as early as 4.30am, so breakfast will be provided, followed by packed lunches and food in the evening.

After having worked as a chef for much of his life, Stan knows what it takes to cater for significant events. Last November, he was also fortunate to be a part of the catering team for the opening of the new whare tupuna, Tūhuru at Arahura Marae on the West Coast.

“I’ve cooked for large numbers of people before, so I am fortunate that I have an understanding of what processes are required to ensure that an operation runs smoothly,” he says.

Stan says his Te Matatini role has included finding caterers for the event, (Christchurch-based company, Continental Caterers have secured the tender), and working closely with the Papatipu Rūnanga.

“When you think of Ngāi Tahu, you do think kaimoana. It is humbling seeing the different rūnanga offer to provide not just kai for Te Matatini but also manpower. Their desire to see it succeed is commendable.

“We have also been privileged to receive support from the Probation Services with the provision of kai mara from the gardens that they manage, as well as the invaluable assistance from Ken Gray of Ngai Tahu Seafood.

Stan, who is a chef tutor at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology says he has drawn up menus for the event and says festival-goers and whānau can expect to try tuna (eel), pāua, kūtai (mussels), kōura, tītī (mutton-bird) and other foods that are readily available around Te Waipounamu. As well as preparing serving platters for various groups, he adds that much of the kai for the hākari will be served in packages, much like Japanese bento boxes.

“I hope things run smoothly. I want people to enjoy what they’re eating, as well as the manawhenua to be proud of what they have provided in order to make the event a success. The key to everything is manaakitanga and how we look after the manuhiri.”

He ngākau aroha – A loving heart, is the theme for this year’s festival. It is reflective of the Waitaha people’s desire to give back to those who kindly showed their support during the Christchurch earthquakes. As hosts, a large part of acknowledging visitors will be through the offering of food.