Kapi-Mana News : January 31st 2012
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We had the people and their cultures right here in New Zea- land. The idea was for refugees and migrants to tell their stories, to help break down barriers and prejudice, with food as the entree,'' says Anna Cottrell. The well-known broadcaster and television documentary maker's idea seemed to fall on deaf ears. No-one appeared interested,'' she says. It was an idea ahead of its time, but with my colleague Jennifer Bush- Daumec, we turned the idea into a series of exhibitions and media events.'' What television rejected has been picked up by others who realised the potential and power in what was being offered. Now the Migrating Kitchen Trust puts on shows and exhibitions in different parts of the country, with one planned for Palmerston North at the newly refurbished Te Manawa Gallery, opening at the end of March. We've had three very success- ful exhibitions at Pataka museum and we're looking for- ward to the one day event at the Festival of the Elements Wai- tangi Day celebrations,'' Ms Cottrell says. At Te Rauparaha Park, the Migrating Kitchen promises a rich mixture of colour, cultures, sights and sounds, and alluring aromas. All under the canopies of two huge Moroccan tents. Communities tell their own stories -- stories full of adven- ture, adversity, romance and hope...andfoodisthe medium.'' The Migrating Kitchen Trust is a non-profit organisation, financed through grants, donations and sponsorship. The Trust was set up because we are aware that loneliness and isolation are constant com- panions as people arrive and settle in a new place,'' Ms Cottrell says. Language difficulties, sepa- ration from family, absence of cultural and spiritual networks may lead to depression and con- flict. The Trust addresses these issues by inviting communities to take part in Migrating Kitchen exhibitions.'' Food and its preparation is a wonderful way for people to meet,'' Ms Cottrell says. Often for those who have come here as refugees it's their best chance to be heard. We all have customs around food, and our exhibitions avoid the direct approach, which sometimes can be intimidating. The Migrating Kitchen encourages people to have a voice. And there's fab food.'' Master of spices: Hassan El Kour, with partner Emily and daughter Lily Amena, will provide a sprinkling of Morocco to the Festival of the Elements on February 6.Family starts anew in festival Hassan El Kour was 11 years old when he left school, left home and went to work for a shopkeeper selling spices, herbs, olives and other traditional Moroccan foods and fruits. He was number six in a family of 11 children and his parents could no longer afford to keep him at their home on the outskirts of the histori- cal fortress town of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. Hassan already knew a lot about Moroccan spices and herbs from helping his mother, but now his knowledge became more profound, working from dawn to dusk in the market places of Casablanca. He speaks Arabic, French and English, but has found his cooking is a univer- sal language; and being a talented chef and conversationalist, he makes friends easily. He came to New Zealand with his Dunedin-born partner Emily, set- tling in Nelson. Their baby Lily Amena was born in an eco house on an island in the Waimea Estuary. They moved to Christchurch where he worked in a Moroccan restaurant in the city. Then the September earthquake destroyed the building and his job. He secured another position in a large market garden, tending tom- atoes in the many glasshouses. The February quake put paid to all that. The family has now moved to Wel- lington, where he is a restaurant chef once more. One day I would like my own res- taurant, but first I would like to know more about New Zealand and New Zealanders,'' he says. It's good to be at the Porirua fes- tival and working in the Migrating Kitchen. It's a chance to meet people and to learn about others who are new to this country.'' Partner Emily will also be at the Festival of the Elements, as a stall holder. She has her own business selling clothing, fashions and other goods, mostly personally selected while she was on her overseas travels. She also attends markets in Wellington City and Lower Hutt and trades on the internet. I'm determined to sell only ethically produced products and fair trading clothing,'' she says. The business had been growing in Christchurch before the earthquakes and had a strong customer base. Now the family is in a new place. We're excited to be here for the Waitangi Day celebrations and be part of the Festival of the Elements. It's like a new beginning.'' What, when The Festival of the Elements: arts, crafts, entertainment, food and fun at Te Rauparaha Park/ Arena, Pataka and aquatic centre, 11am till 7.30pm, February 6. Visit elementsfestival. org.nz.
January 24th 2012
February 7th 2012