Cooker gives real hangi experience
A desire to re-create the authentic taste of hangi, without the hassle of having to prepare the traditional pit, is the inspiration behind one Waitara man’s invention.
After about 18 months of working on the idea, John Tipene, of Ngati Awa and Tainui descent, has come up with a squareshaped hangi cooker, which uses gas-heated river stones to cook the food. ‘‘The success of the product is in the kohatu, in the stones,’’ he said.
Although he said the principle of heating stones might sound simple, it had taken him a lot of time to perfect the process in order to get consistent results.
The stones, which are located at the bottom of the stainless steel container, are heated by a blower, which can be attached to any regular gas bottle. Tipene said it took about an hour or so for the rocks to heat up. ‘‘They’ll glow white hot,’’ he said.
Once the rocks are heated, the kai baskets are then put in and left for about two to three hours to cook.
Tipene said he initially used old kegs to make the cookers, with the first 40 selling within days on Trade Me. But since moving to the box shaped model, he had already made and sold 100 of them around New Zealand and in Australia.
The 51-year-old, who also owns a civil construction business, said he made all of the cookers at his home-based workshop.
‘‘Initially it took three days to make one. Now I can make three in one day,’’ he said.
With a marketing and promotional plan now in place for the business, including help from Venture Taranaki and Te Puni Kokiri, Tipene said he expected the hangi cooker would be popular with increasing numbers of customers.
He said it appealed to people who lived in urban areas or in rental properties who wanted to have hangi, but who were not allowed to dig holes or light fires on their sections.
Tipene said he believed the enduring love for hangi recognised not only Maori traditions, but it was also something which comforted people. ‘‘When we eat a hangi somewhere else, it reminds us of home,’’ he said.
The product, known as Te Kohatu Hangi Cooker, was officially launched at Waitara’s Cainz Cafe last Friday, along with a website and online instructional video.
Unique design: Waitara’s John Tipene has developed a mobile hangi cooker which uses heated river stones to cook the food.