‘We continue to rejoice like they do in Greece’: How New Zealand’s Greek neighborhood retains culinary traditions alive

Hellenic migrants brought a robust and very pleased food lifestyle when they chose Aotearoa as their new household. Alexia Santamaria investigates how they’ve preserved their culinary heritage.

Greek migration is difficult to sum up, as it doesn’t slide neatly into a group of folks leaving the same region for New Zealand all close to the same time.

The Hellenic group (Greek-talking folks, typically belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church) came from all more than the world – including Cyprus, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Egypt and Russia. Some adopted the gold rush of the late 1800s some had been escaping devastating economic disorders just after the Next Environment War many others fled the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey in 1974.

Baklava (layered pastry dessert filled with chopped nuts) is a popular traditional Greek dessert.


Baklava (layered pastry dessert crammed with chopped nuts) is a well known conventional Greek dessert.

But no matter when and why they arrived, preserving their food stuff traditions has been massively significant.

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Stella Bares is a key determine in that preservation. Bares, a previous president of the Greek Orthodox Group of Wellington and recipient of the Companion of the Queen’s Provider Order for providers to the Greek group, arrived in New Zealand from Greece when she was just eight months outdated.

“My moms and dads remaining communist Romania in 1948 and I was born in Greece,” Bares says. “We arrived to New Zealand in 1951 on a transport ship. We were being aspect of a group of Greek-Romanian displaced persons”.

Bares has normally preserved the great importance of retaining Greek food stuff traditions alive.

“We still celebrate Greek Easter like they do in Greece. Some folks quickly [no fish, meat, eggs and dairy] for 50 times for lent, and that rapid is damaged right after midnight mass on Easter Sunday with a standard soup termed Mayeritsa​.

Stella Bares demonstrates Greek cooking to renowned Kiwi chef Peter Gordon during an event at his restaurant.

Alexia Santamaria

Stella Bares demonstrates Greek cooking to renowned Kiwi chef Peter Gordon for the duration of an occasion at his restaurant.

“The preparing for the major Easter food can go for a 7 days beforehand. It will often contain lamb – normally a complete one on a spit – with plenty of other traditional dishes. At Christmas we still make Greek kourabiedes​ and melomakarona​ [traditional biscuits] like we would have back again household.”

Associates of the Greek group also appreciate sharing their food items society with anyone who would like to find out. Bares does cooking demonstrations for the Hellenic New Zealand Congress​, and every 12 months the Greek Orthodox Community of Wellington​ holds Paniyiri​, a Greek Meals pageant that is increasing year-on-calendar year. From a tiny accumulating back again in the 1970s, guest quantities routinely hit much more than 12,000 now, crowds flocking for the souvlaki, pita bread, calamari, baklava, loukoumades and very good-time Greek vibes.

Every year the Greek Orthodox Community of Wellington holds Paniyiri, a Greek food festival.

Stellar Studios Ltd

Just about every year the Greek Orthodox Group of Wellington retains Paniyiri, a Greek foodstuff pageant.

Wellington is the coronary heart of Greek society in Aotearoa (it was a major centre of settlement) but there are also smaller pockets in other components of the nation. Most several years in Auckland the Greek Neighborhood and Orthodox Parish of Auckland and Districts​ retains a pretty common Greek current market working day – and this calendar year an Easter lunch way too – to share Greek lifestyle with eager locals.

1 obstacle faced by immigrants was the availability of classic Greek substances.

“When we arrived in New Zealand, aubergine, capsicums and garlic were almost unheard of,” laughs Bares.

“The only way we could get olive oil was from the chemist – in 100ml bottles! We experienced to get started escalating all the veggies we cook with in our backyards. My grandmother often reported a dwelling is not a home until it has a grapevine, a lemon tree and a fig tree.”

Calamari is a popular Greek food dish that’s served at the Paniyiri festival in Wellington.


Calamari is a preferred Greek food items dish that is served at the Paniyiri pageant in Wellington.

Some providers commenced to make Greek products. The present-day owner of Lincoln Bakery in Auckland, John Fraser, bought the filo pastry element of his business from 1 such Greek.

“There was an aged man termed Timos who ran restaurants back again in the sixties but obtained himself into a bit of money difficulty and started off hunting for option streams of revenue,” says Fraser.

When he went back again to Greece on a holiday getaway, his brother arrived up with the notion of bringing genuine Greek filo to Kiwis. They acquired secondhand equipment there and introduced it back again and did just that for 25 decades – till I purchased the company 5 many years ago.


Patisserie chef and operator of Sugar Flour Maxine Scheckter is teaching people how to bake by internet hosting courses online. (Video revealed in April 2020)

“We still use their identical strategies, and offer lots of Greek dining establishments.”

But there are continue to a lot of goods that just cannot be, or merely aren’t, generated right here. 20-5 several years ago Mary Etheridge, pissed off with the deficiency of food stuff from her homeland, commenced importing antipasto products and solutions from Greece. Her brand is now recognized as The Olive Lady, and sold in supermarkets throughout the state.

Donald Montes of Style Greece started off out in 2010 advertising Greek olives and olive oils at marketplaces. Because then, he’s expanded to over 400 traces together with dolmas, feta, Greek espresso, wine, vine leaves and preserved peaches.

Donald Montes and wife Emily of Taste Greece opened a retail shop in Browns Bay in 2019.

Donald Montes/Equipped

Donald Montes and spouse Emily of Taste Greece opened a retail store in Browns Bay in 2019.

“It’s been wonderful to see the increasing fascination and our clientele is actually combined – Kiwis, South Africans – and Greeks much too of program,” says Montes. “We had been online for several several years but in 2019 we opened a retail store in Browns Bay with our merchandise downstairs and a kitchen area room at the prime.

“My spouse Emily is an wonderful cook and has began educating cooking lessons, which are becoming actually well known – in particular with company groups. We also serve souvlaki on the weekends as there aren’t too quite a few locations you can get all those authentic Greek flavours.”

Emily's Greek Kitchen, upstairs from Taste Greece in Browns Bay, serves souvlaki on the weekends.

Donald Montes/Equipped

Emily’s Greek Kitchen area, upstairs from Flavor Greece in Browns Bay, serves souvlaki on the weekends.

So the place can you get people genuine Greek flavours? Below are some tips from the Greeks themselves:


Most destinations serving Greek dishes will do it alongside other Mediterranean food items – generally Turkish or Italian. El Greco (Campbell’s Bay) and Niko’s Pizza (Takapuna) each have Greek dishes amidst their Italian choices, and Lokanta does a combine of Turkish and Greek. Gerome in Parnell turns out contemporary Greek, and of program there is Emily’s Greek Kitchen area for souvlaki in Browns Bay on the weekends.


Oikos Hellenic Cuisine​ is dearly cherished by the community, as is takeaway joint Souvlaki at Acropolis​.

There are also food stuff trucks that do the rounds – Louko Meli Loukoumades​ for Greek doughnut balls, and The Greek Foodstuff Truck​ for souvlaki, salads and spinach pie.


In Christchurch, it is all about Costas Taverna Greek Cafe and Ouzo Bar​. The Athens Yacht Club​ also will come advised, and of system the effectively-loved Dimitris Greek Food items​ has been bringing Cantabrians Greek joy due to the fact 1985.

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