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Waikato Food Inc and Waikato District Council launch Matariki Kai Challenge

Matariki will take centre stage at local eateries in June and July following the launch of the inaugural Tino Reka te Kai Matariki Menu Challenge.

Waikato Food Inc and Waikato District Council have come together to launch the food challenge which requires participants to incorporate at least two locally sourced food items in their menu.

Waikato Food Inc Chairperson Vicki Ravlich-Horan says the event will kick off on May 25 at Turangawaewae Marae.
 “We wanted an event that would showcase producers and food suppliers from our region,” said Ravlich-Horan.
“To work alongside the Waikato District Council and run the challenge as part of the Matariki Festival is a real bonus.”
Eateries will be invited to enter the ‘Tino Reka te Kai’ Matariki Menu Challenge. They’ll create a Matariki inspired dish which will be scored by selected judges and voted on by the public at a later date. There will be an overall winner and a ‘people’s choice’ winner.

Waikato District Council Iwi and Community Partnerships Manager, Marae Tukere says Council is excited by the competition.
“The Matariki Festival is an opportunity for Waikato residents to celebrate the Maaori New year in a variety of ways and incorporating the Tino Reka te Kai Matariki Challenge adds a new element to the festival.”
“This is a great way to promote Matariki and to introduce the wider community to some traditional Maori ingredients and food.”

Turangawaewae Marae will host a special launch for Tino Reka te Kai on Monday 25 May. Local producers from around Waikato district will showcase their products to participating chefs.
“The launch will be a great event,” said Ravlich-Horan. “As well as giving chefs a chance to sample the local produce and think about how it can be incorporated into their dish, they’ll also get inspiration with a demonstration by top Maaori chef Charles Royal and one of the kuia from Turangawaewae, who is an expert bread maker, Te Reo Graham”.


New Zealand Maaori chef Charles Royal started out as a field chef in the New Zealand Army. Today he runs a thriving business based on indigenous treats from the native forest such as wild herbs and edible ferns and has elevated them to contemporary fine food status.


For more information contact:
Megan Wetere, Waikato Food Inc: or 021 2228239
Marae Tukere, Waikato District Council:
Waikato Food Inc
“By developing a vibrant and cohesive network of like-minded businesses we will gain recognition that the Waikato is a world class food producing region”.
Waikato Food Inc supports, facilitates and inspires the industry to achieve this goal together with the region as a whole gaining the associated economic benefits. Waikato Food Inc is a not-for-profit member based group open to everyone in the Waikato region. We are currently working on several projects from a regional dining guide through to participation in food shows.

About Charles Royal
Charles Royal is a chef by trade. His cooking career started as a 15-year-old apprentice chef and field cook in the army. Today Charles runs a thriving business based on indigenous food from New Zealand’s native forests. He has played a key role in establishing the Kiwi food identity.