Christchurch restaurant owner and Māori language advocate, Anton Matthews, has produced a new brand of tomato sauce with a Māori name, Kīnaki Tomato.
The sauce is Matthews’ response to a Wattie's advertising campaign that bastardised Māori place names to become foods that pair with tomato sauce, such as 'pie-hia', fritti-anga' and 'wana-kebab'.
“At the time it caught our eye and, being a fish and chip business, we bought a lot of product from that particular company," says Matthews.
As well as running the restaurant, Matthews teaches te reo Māori to the public.
“Apart from selling fish and chips, one of our big brand pillars is that we’re out in the community actively every single day trying to correct some of these mispronunciations.”
Mobilising te reo around Te Waipounamu / Te Ao - May, 2019
Matthews’ partnered with Barker's of Geraldine to produce the sauce.
“This particular kaupapa is about partnering up, collaborating with a really exciting local kamupene [compan]y, down here in Canterbury, in Waitaha, and putting out something really positive for te reo Māori coming into Māori Language week.”
Matthews says he contacted a number of tomato sauce manufacturers and Barkers made sense for a number of reasons.
“No 1, it was just down the road and, No 2, it makes a premium tomato product. Look to be brutally honest, when it comes to our brand, FUSH, we’ve placed ourselves in the market as a premium fish and chip product, so there was a nice alignment there as well.”
Matthews says he reached out to several brands but Barker's was the only one that responded.
“I have to commend Barker's because I could have been easier to say no to but they took a chance on us and, for that, I hope te ao Māori gets behind them and shows them some tautoko and support.”
Matthews says the label also has plenty of neat reo Māori touches throughout, including nutritional information, phrases to use around the dinner table and instructions to keep your kīnaki tasting fresh.
The sauce is available for pre-orders online and the first bottles are expected to roll off the production line on September 7, just in time for Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori.