From Hangi to Hupa: Navigating Soul Food in Studentville

From Hangi to Hupa: Navigating Soul Food in Studentville

In the cutthroat world of student survival, where the budget is as tight as our jeans after gaining the infamous fresher five, planning for the week ahead can be a real challenge. Particularly so when it’s your turn to put on a hākari and you’re not sure which dish will impress the flatties. Much like pineapple on pizza, kaimoana can be a hit or miss for some, especially on our student budgets. But fret not, Critic Te Ārohi has you covered with some of the hearty classics.

He Te Kōhua | Boil-Up

Boil-up has long served as the ultimate comfort food — a heartwarming soup that unites generations, and it deserves its own spotlight. So, what ingredients make for a stellar boil-up and which are better left to frolic elsewhere? The most common formula consists of pork, pūhā, watercress, and doughboys, but there’s always room for more! If you’re keen on a cheaper feed, most are no stranger to a pack of cheap saussies, so chuck ‘em on in. Boil-up is far from a luxury meal, though you may get a look or two if you whip out the T sauce. Important: the longer it simmers, the better. Build-ups = better boil-up.

He Parāoa Parai | Fried Bread

Ah, fried bread — the crispy, golden companion that elevates every meal. But what toppings are worthy of this sacred sidepiece? The most popular combos to impress a crowd consist of (real) butter and golden syrup, Nutella and banana, or even a classic bacon and egg combo — these are the champions of fried bread pairings. Keep it classy, and your fried bread will be a star attraction.

He Ika Mata | Raw Fish

In the great conundrum of student survival, an unsung hero emerges in the form of ika mata, raw fish, the truest champion of the broke and hungry. Originating from the Cook Island region, this ika mata graciously offers an escape from the colourlessness of instant noodles and budget-friendly mystery meats. Once dubbed the ‘fishy saviour’, ika mata showcases raw fish marinated in a zesty combination of coconut cream, lime, and fresh vegetables, transforming the mundane into a tropical delight. Move over ramen, there's a new budget-friendly delicacy in town, swimming circles around your bland noodle empire.

Hupa Kaimoana | Seafood Chowder 

In a world where instant gratification often trumps quality, seafood chowder serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of slow-cooked comfort food. Imagine a hearty bowl filled with a symphony of ocean delights, dancing in a creamy broth that whispers tales of affordability and leftovers. Forget the bland budget-busting meals, seafood chowder is here to redefine student sustenance, not just as a feast for the senses but a savvy financial move; proof that deliciousness need not be sacrificed on the altar of frugality. 

Rēwana | Leavened Bread

Forget avocado on sourdough; it's time for a rēwana revolution. This humble bread, born from ancient traditions, is not just a side dish, but a necessity. If you can crack the recipe, that is. A bug or sourdough starter is first made from fermented potato or kūmara, and though this takes some time it’s well worth it — as with all good soul food, a little goes a long way. 

Hāngī | Earth Oven/Air fryer

You know you’re in the South Island when you can’t buy a $10 hāngī on the side of the road, so the next best thing is to make it at home. The traditional and highly popularised method of cooking in large quantities (once described by Gordon Ramsey as the “primitive pressure cooker”) may not be the most realistic method on your concrete lawn, so the air fryer will just have to do. For ingredients, root vegetables like kūmara, potatoes and pumpkin are a dirty trio, absorbing those earthy, smoky flavours like culinary sponges. Don’t forget to roll up some stuffing with enough butter to give you a heart attack, and raid the freezer for whatever protein you have lying around. Feel free to be creative but anything too delicate or prone to turning to mush should probably stay out of the earth oven.


Whether you're embracing the raw allure of ika mata or indulging in the creamy comforts of seafood chowder, just remember: it's not just about feeding the puku, but about feeding the soul — preferably without emptying the wallet entirely. After all, in the realm of flatmate approval, a well-executed meal is the ultimate currency, and financial woes are just crumbs in the great (rēwana) loaf of life.

This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2024.
Posted 1:25pm Sunday 10th March 2024 by Heeni Koero Te Rerenoa (Sky).