Karena and Kasey Bird give thanks for their eventful year.

This year we have been asked a lot about our favourite memory of celebrating Matariki.

We've realised we never did celebrate it growing up. At school we would don red and learn about the luck of the dragon for Chinese New Year but we never celebrated our own. Fast forward to now and our cousins are learning about Matariki in school and there are different events all over the country celebrating our nation's unique new year.

Matariki has evolved from being a time when Maori would cultivate their crops and collect seafood and birds, to being like New Zealand's Thanksgiving. In our family, it is when we all get together and look at what we have done and where we are headed.

This year's Matariki has been a great time for us to reflect on what has happened since January. Our lives have changed forever. It feels a lifetime ago that we were still anonymous and most of the country (including our close friends) didn't know we could cook, to now being MasterChef winners and able to make a living doing what we love.


Looking ahead there are so many things to look forward to - doing demonstrations at The Food Show, our cookbook coming out next year and writing for Living every other week. We are living our dream.

One of the constants in our lives is our family and friends. They are always there to make sure our feet are on the ground and we get our chores done when we are home. So this week we thought we would share with you some of our celebratory Matariki dishes we'll be feasting on when we are back home.

In Maketu, you can find tuatua in the surf by digging your feet into the sand and doing the well-known shuffle to find them. Luckily for us, we are able to get our hands on big, juicy Cloudy Bay clams. They are so succulent and, even better, sustainable, so they are a favourite ingredient. We cook them in an Asian coconut sauce with some takakau (Maori flatbread) on the side to dip into the juices.

We think everyone loves a good roast and for Matariki we thought we would share a special recipe. Roasted whole duck is decadent. It takes a little bit longer than a chicken but when it is done it will melt in your mouth and the added horopito gives a delicious, savoury pepperiness. The potatoes roasted under the duck for the last hour get so sweet and golden from the glorious duck juices.

Our version of a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie uses the good old kumara. This is a must-try dessert. It is beautifully spiced and the filling has a velvety texture that melts in your mouth.


Try out Karena and Kasey Bird's delicious recipes at bite.co.nz - links below

Photo / Doug Sherring

Tuatua in Asian Coconut Broth
Matariki Roast Duck
Sweet Kumara Pie