Matariki: Three Matariki-inspired recipes to celebrate the public holiday this weekend

Friendship, family and food will be celebrated this Friday as Aotearoa officially recognises Matariki as a public holiday for the first time.

In Māori culture, Matariki is the name for the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters. The rising of Matariki in late June or early July traditionally marks the beginning of the New Year in the Māori lunar calendar, and is considered a time to reflect on the past, look forward to the future and celebrate the present. For many, Matariki also marks an important time to remember the loved ones who are no longer with us, to feast, and spend quality time with friends and whānau. 

While some traditional rituals are still held and observed in parts of Aotearoa, for many celebrating Matariki is as simple as sharing a meal with friends and family and taking time to reflect on the past year or make plans for the future.

With food, or kai, being such an integral part of Matariki, this weekend presents a great opportunity to gather with your loved ones and share a delicious, home-cooked meal. However, if you're anything like me and your love affair with the kitchen is more star-crossed than it is otherworldly, never fear - help is on the way.

To make your Matariki meal one to remember, Kasey and Karena Bird - celebrity chefs, award-winning authors and sisters - have partnered with Silver Fern Farms to create several recipes that are inspired by the constellation. The dynamic duo from Maketū, Bay of Plenty - who took out the title of MasterChef New Zealand in 2014 - consulted the stars and put together three dishes featuring ingredients guided by Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi, Waitī and Waitā, centring around meaty, earthy flavours. 

The star of Tupuānuku is connected to food grown in the soil, cultivated and uncultivated. It is thought to indicate the right time to plant and harvest crops for the coming year. On the other hand, Tupuārangi is the star linked to everything that grows above the ground, such as food from the trees or birds from the sky - there is a particularly strong connection to birds. Some believe that if the stars Tupuānuku and Tupuārangi shine brightly when Matariki rises, people can plan for a plentiful harvest of crops, as well as berries, fruits and birds from the forest.

Waitī is connected to bodies of fresh water and the food within it, such as whitebait, eels, watercress and koura, while Waitā is tied to the ocean and the food that comes from it - think mussels, fish, crayfish, pāua and kina.

Kasey and Karena Bird.
Kasey and Karena Bird. Photo credit: Supplied

"To have a public holiday which acknowledges and celebrates a part of our culture with the whole country is special and makes us excited for what the future holds," the Bird sisters said.

"To celebrate the first official holiday, we will be cooking for 750 people over two days in Wellington. We will also attend several Hautapu – a ceremony that is done in the early hours of the morning when Matariki rises in the sky. Once our events are done we will head back to Maketū and have a delicious feast with everyone. Gathering around the table and sharing kai is always something we do during this special time of year.

"Matariki is about reflection and gratitude and future planning. But more than anything it is about aroha, spending time together and sharing food. We hope these recipes help people celebrate in their own way at home," they added.

"If you are celebrating Matariki for the first time, spend time together to reflect, plan and celebrate. It is always great to do this around the dinner table, sharing food. Having food that pays homage to our unique landscape and ingredients available in Aotearoa is a great way to celebrate Matariki and we've created these recipes with that in mind."

With three delicious recipes to choose from, there's no doubt your food will be the star of the show this weekend.

Beef Eye Fillet with Crayfish Gratin, Kūmara and Pūhā

Serves 2


  • 1 pack of Silver Fern Farms Beef Eye Fillet Steaks

Crayfish gratin:

  • 100g crayfish meat, cooked and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp parmesan, grated
  • 2 tsp chives, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper.

Kūmara puree:

  • 2 small kūmara, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt.


  • Small bunch of pūhā (sow thistle or milk thistle).

In this recipe we use ingredients associated with Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi and Waitā.


  • To make the crayfish gratin, heat a small pan to medium and add butter and oil, then add onion and garlic and cook for two minutes or until translucent. Add cream and reduce by half. Then add crayfish and chives. Mix and set aside.
  • Remove Silver Fern Farms Beef Eye Fillet Steaks from packaging, cover, and bring to room temperature. Rub oil over the steaks and season.
  • Preheat the pan or BBQ to medium-high and pan-fry the steaks for three to four minutes on each side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate, cover, and rest for five minutes.
  • Put the beef on a baking tray and top with the crayfish. Sprinkle the parmesan on top. Turn the oven to grill and grill the steaks for five minutes or until the cheese is golden.
  • To make the kūmara puree, add the kūmara to a small pot and cover with water. Boil the kūmara until soft. Mash with butter and cream and season to taste. For an extra smooth mash put all of the ingredients in a food processor to combine.
  • To serve, place a portion of puree on the plate and top with the beef. Garnish with the pūhā. This can be served with your choice of vegetable or salad.
Matariki: Three Matariki-inspired recipes to celebrate the public holiday this weekend
Photo credit: Supplied

Mānuka Marinated Lamb Rumps with Kahawai Potato Puree

Serves 3-4


  • 1 pack Silver Fern Farms Lamb Rumps
  • 1 tbsp mānuka honey
  • 3 tbsp mint sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper.

Potato puree:

  • 4 agria potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 100g kahawai, smoked
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Handful of chives, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper.

Zesty sauce:

  • 4 tbsp mint sauce
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh mint, to garish.

This recipe uses ingredients associated with Tupuānuku, Tupuārangi and Waitā.


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Remove Silver Fern Farms Lamb Rumps from packaging, cover, and bring to room temperature.
  • Place all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, pat the lamb with a paper towel and add to the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least one hour. For best results, leave to marinate overnight.
  • To cook, place the lamb in the oven and roast for 20 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  • To make the kahawai mash, peel and chop the potatoes into even pieces. Place the potatoes in a pot and add cold water until they are just covered. Generously season the water with salt.
  • Place the pot on a medium-high heat and boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender and completely cooked. Once cooked, drain and mash well. Add in butter and mix thoroughly. Then add cream and stir through.
  • Flake the smoked kahawai through the mash and gently stir through. Add lemon zest and chives and season to taste.
  • To make the sauce, mix all of the ingredients together. Slice the lamb and spoon over the sauce, garnish with the fresh mint leaves and serve with the kahawai mash.
Matariki: Three Matariki-inspired recipes to celebrate the public holiday this weekend
Photo credit: Supplied

Venison Medallions and Watercress Salad with Rewena Croutons and Kawakawa Dressing

Serves 3


  • 1 pack of Silver Fern Farms Venison Medallions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp horopito, dried
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze.

Candied walnuts:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar.

Kawakawa dressing:

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tsp kawakawa, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 garlic, crushed
  • Lemon zest
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper.

To serve:

  • 120g watercress
  • 2 slices of rēwena bread, cut in to 2x2cm cubes (for croutons)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 150g kumara, cut in to 2x2cm cubes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper.

In this recipe we use ingredients associated with Tupuānuku, Tupuātangi and Waitī.


  • Remove Silver Fern Farms Venison Medallions from packaging, cover and bring to room temperature. Mix together the oil, horopito, garlic and balsamic and rub over the medallions. 
  • Preheat the fry-pan or BBQ to medium-high. Pan-fry for two to three minutes on each side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate, cover and rest for five minutes.
  • To make the candied walnuts, line a tray with baking paper. In a small pan melt the butter and sugar together. Once bubbling, add the walnuts and stir to coat. Pour the nuts onto the baking tray and leave to cool. Once cool, cut into small pieces.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the ingredients for the kawakawa dressing and set aside.
  • To make the kūmara, preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Lightly oil the kūmara and season with salt and pepper. Lay flat on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through.
  • Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the croutons and gently toss until slightly golden and crisp.
  • To serve, add all the ingredients to a dish and drizzle the dressing over the top.
Matariki: Three Matariki-inspired recipes to celebrate the public holiday this weekend
Photo credit: Supplied