There's nothing like a hot hangi on a cold winter weekend, even if it is supposed to be cafe kai served on sun-drenched sidewalks at this time of the year.

To the discerning puku palate, a hot hangi cooked the old fashioned way cannot be mimicked or masked no matter how clean cut the stainless steel drum it comes in, nor can it be reheated long after the juice has dried up.

The same can be said about politics, more so politicians who try to regurgitate an old hangi - in this case the cold stones of a Hobson Treaty served up by master chef Don Brash.

Not only is his cryptic korero cold and old but so are the stones that any good hangi needs to attract the puku with an appetite for politics.


This last week I have been lucky to taste the true hangi of where this Kiwi and Iwi country is heading, as a culturally cool - let's come together for all the right reasons, place to call home.

For any of the 1000 or so who attended and many more who listened live online to the NZ Music Awards at Vector, the induction of Moana Maniapoto into the NZ Music Hall of Fame was hotter than a winter's hangi stone.

You could feel, hear and taste the ihi, the wehi and the unbridled aroha toward and from a wahine toa, who could be and should be leading this country.

Every musician who stood and spoke was culturally cool and normalised the tongue of te reo Maori. There were no tokenistic tins of cocoa (tena koutou) or here am I (haere mai) used so often for all the wrong reasons.

This was and is the aroma attracting Maori and non-Maori toward each other and our politicians need to get on board with the flavour of this korero.

Moana spoke as an edu-tainer, an artivist and political activist who has walked the talk of her ancestors with a rebel deep inside looking for a cause and not just applause.

And she got more standing ovations than a presidential inauguration and Orewa speech put together.

She called out across the crowd and told her story. A story the rest of the country need to listen to, especially those dining out on cold hangi.

The falling star phrase she threw out to the audience was "Make a difference". It is three words I have been talking and teaching my daughter all week so she two can put it in her pocket and never let it fade away.

When we compare the kai korero served up as bookends this last week by Don Brash and Moana Maniapoto, there would be no-one in my circle of friends who want to look back and dine out on old and cold hangi, or throw the stones at those who cooked the kai in the first place.

Where does it come from is my question?

Is it because Maori have broken through many of the barriers put up by Colonialists back in the day when they didn't have the vote and their land was disappearing?

One only has to look at Ngai Tahu and Tainui who have paved the way forward for Maori to follow with bank balances way north of a billion dollars.

When Maori do well it worries the old, white money of New Zealand.

No longer can we afford to be a colour blind society that denies our history and forgets the true taste of our own Maori culture.

The chestnut long cracked about Maori over-represented in poor health, prisons, poverty and any other ingoa starting with P can be clearly invoiced back to stolen lands and opportunities. This has been agreed to and acted on by prime ministers, judges, treaty settlements and activists and artists like Moana and her mates.

You can torture statistics to tell you what you want to hear, but it's a pointless political exercise akin to cooking a hot hangi on cold stones.

It's not going to happen. Not here in the Bay that has plenty of edu-tainers, artivists and activists like Moana, not to mention an audience of culturally cool communities.

As for me and my whanau we will decide for ourselves how to make a difference. We will listen to and learn from the final wise words of Moana Maniapoto's acceptance speech.

"If you don't stand for something, then you will fall for anything."

Including a very old and cold hangi.
Tommy Kapai is a best-selling author and local writer.