Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness 2022 (Kiwi) Edition!

The inspiration: A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
Adapted by Kingi M. Ihaka and illustrated by Dick Frizzell

For almost 15 years now, Mrs InFrame has been coming up with a special 12-day menu to celebrate the “Twelve Days of Christmas”.

She alternates each year between the traditional and the New Zealand version, otherwise known as “A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”.

This year was the Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness Edition!

Most of the dishes usually have a direct correlation to the songs (Five Big Fat Pigs = Pork/Ham/Bacon), others use a fair chunk of artistic license as, if we stuck COMPLETELY to the original “Twelve Days” song’s days’ feathered features, we’d be swimming in poultry with French Hens, Swans a Swimming, Geese a Laying etc. etc. otherwise.

I’ll do my best to explain the pairing concepts as we go.

So sit back and enjoy as I reveal to you what my true love made over the Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness for 2022

A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree

Pea Soup

Pukeko, otherwise known as the “Australasian Swamp Hen”, when not testing physics by riskily residing on or near roads in varying forms of dimension from three to two live, as their name suggests, in wetlands and swamps – represented here by the pea soup.

Two Kumara

Kumara and Chickpea Burgers

Kumara are a sweet potato. This dish combines kumara and chickpeas for a vegetarian burger!

Three Flax Ketes (“Kits”)

Orange Saffron Syrup Cake

Harakeke, the New Zealand Flax plant has a distinct red/orange flower/bloom That my wife thinks looks like Saffron – the stigma of the crocus plant’s flower.

Woven flax Kete are used as baskets and bags to carry things like food. This cake held a lot of Saffron syrup!

Four Huhu Grubs

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

Huhu grubs are a creepy crawly larva-like delicacy usually served at most “Wild Food” festivals. They are renowned for their gooey-squishiness when you bite into them. Lots of people compare the Huhu grub’s taste and consistency to the equally gooey-squishiness of peanut butter.

The Chocolate cupcake represents the mud/dirt/ground cover or rotten tree trunks the grubs reside in.

Five Big Fat Pigs!

Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding

Pigs like to wallow in mud and this pudding – a Frame Family favorite, wallows in a rich, sweet, “muddy” chocolate sauce.

Six Pois a Twirling

Stuffed Onions

Poi are little bags on woven string used in Maori dance and cultural performances.

We think stuffed onions look like Poi, E(h)?

Seven Eels a-Swimming

Stuffed Sausages with Mushroom Gravy

The Longfin Eel are native to New Zealand. and can be found in lots of muddy waterways – even the creek that runs past our house. These eel-like stuffed sausages swim in a muddy mushroom sauce, with green baby spinach along its shoreline.

Eight Plants of Puha

Detox Green Juice

Puha is a leafy, green, wild vegetable that usually grows near water, so a verdant detox drink made of celery, cucumber, spinach and green Granny Smith apples seems appropriate on liquid and color categories.

Nine Sacks of Pipis

Seafood Pie

Pipi are a bivalve mollusc like cockles. We went a little more up-(fish)market with salmon and prawns in our pies!

The flaky pastry, when puffed up, looks like a sack, too!

Ten Juicy Fish Heads

Snapper Curry

The image painted by Dick Frizzell in the Pukeko in a Ponga Tree picture book is of Snapper heads. These can be a bit stinky (as well as reasonably visually horrifying) when left out, and we have more than enough flies in the house this time of year, so fresh Snapper fillets simmered in a curry sauce was a far better alternative.

Eleven Haka Lessons

BBQ Whole Beef (and Vegan Pulled BBQ Pork)

The Haka is, of course, synonymous with New Zealand’s national rugby team. 

Mrs. Frame thinks the All Blacks and others who perform haka have strong, meaty/beefy legs, which gives the quad-slapping motion lots of haka have that distinctive muscley sound.

Twelve Piupiu Swinging


Piupiu are a Maori grass skirt, as can be seen in the iconic Poi e music video. When the dancer wearing it sways or spins the individual threads spread out and sway.

To make Tamales we had to strip down some corn husks into long strands, much like harakeke flax is stripped down to make piupiu, to tie the bigger corn husk Tamale casings together.

We hope you’ve been inspired to try some of these, or your own version next Christmas.

From the Napier in Frame family to yours, we wish you a Merry Kiwi 2022 Christmas and a safe and happy 2023 New Year!

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