Kamokamo / Kumikumi
- The leaves are known as wenewene or hihi
Kamokamo; kumikumi; kūkma ( Ngāti Hine); raurau ( Te Tai Rāwhiti) come under the realm of Rongo-maraeroa. Kamokamo were introduced to Aotearoa during early Pākehā settlement around the late 1800s- early 1900s and like many cultivated foods under Rongo have sustained te iwi Māori for millennia. There are many different varieties and iwi fiercely guarded their prized and preferred kamokamo ensuring seeds and fruits were not affected by cross contaminations or taken by other iwi.
How to Grow:
Plant crops after the last round of frosts with plenty of space as kamokamo is a sprawling, fast growing summer vegie. After approximately 8 weeks and the first fruits are set runners are generally strong enough to sustain a harvest (as wenewene). Early fruit crops can be harvested from December onwards and later crops will fruit through to late summer and early autumn.
Uses & Nutrient Goodness:
The young tender fruit are used similar to a courgette. These are delicious steamed and served with a bit of salt and pepper, added to hangi or boil up. Pan fried bbq, steamed, added to stirfry, sliced onto pizza, the possibilities are endless. Kamokamo also make a good base for penupenu or infant food especially when mashed with pūhā or wenewene.
The mature fruit can be treated like a marrow or squash. These can be mashed, grated and added to fritters, used in a lasagne instead of pasta, made into a chutney or relish or roasted. Kamokamo are a great source of vitamins A, C, fibre and folate.
Very large kamokamo were also used as storage vessels to hold the pulp of ripe tutu, or kept to save the seeds of preferred variety.
The wenewene or hihi can be used like pūhā or any green vegetable. Wenewene are rich in vitamin C, folate and fibre. Simply wash before adding to boiling water, best when boiled twice.
Note: if buying select kamokamo like you would pumpkin: choose one that’s heavy for its size with a hard, dull rind and no soft or watery spots. Store kamokamo in a cool, dark place, but keep in the fridge once it’s been cut.
Check out these recipes:
Determining the identity of New Zealand Kamokamo ( Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae) using mitochondrial DNA and morphological data.
Tahua-Roa; food your visitors. Nick Roskruge. 2012