Matariki kai: ginger crunch recipe

‘A sweet treat for Matariki.’ A whānau favourite that will be a hit with everyone: a particularly crunchy ginger crunch.

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Video transcript




  • 450g butter

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

  • 3 cups plain flour

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1½ cups dessicated coconut

  • 4 wheat biscuits, crushed

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 4-5 tsp ground ginger


  • 200g butter

  • 3 cups icing sugar

  • 6 tbsp golden syrup

  • 4-5 tsp ground ginger (alter according to taste)



Heat oven to 180°C and line a baking dish with baking paper (I use a small roasting dish).

Melt butter, and add vanilla essence.

In a bowl combine flour, sugar, coconut, wheat biscuits, baking powder, and ginger. Then combine all by adding butter and vanilla essence.

Press into your baking dish, and press down on it with a fork.

Cook in oven for about 40-45 minutes until golden.


Combine all ingredients in a pot on medium heat – stirring constantly until butter is melted and smooth with no lumps. Taste to see if you need more ginger, and add more icing sugar if needed.

Pour over hot base. Leave to set, then cut when cool. Makes 30 slices.


Aunty Sharon’s ginger crunch, 2023. Photo courtesy of Sharon Smeaton

Video transcript


Kia ora

So we’re going to make some ginger crunch today.

You have to learn to bake too, to carry it on.


Ko Whitireia te maunga
ko Porirua tōku awa
ko Tainui te waka
ko Raukawakawa te moana
ko Ngāti Toa te iwi.

And my Nan is great because she’s kind, and she’s caring, and she makes really good food.


So we are now going to cook.

So I’m putting butter in a pot. A pound of butter. A couple of caps full of vanilla essence.

I picked ginger crunch because it means a lot with my Nana, and with Graham, my husband’s, Nana, and they used to make it when we were young.

Put it on the stove.

Put all the other ingredients in. Two cups of flour. Crikey, you make it so many times, it just just rattles off.

Been married nearly 50 years now, and I’ve been making it ever since.

No wonder we all got sweet tooths and ten-tonne Tessas.

Sugar in. Coconut. Now put some Weet-Bix in.

My Nana used to bake every weekend. She used to do baking for the week.

Baking that she used to do was thrifty baking. I suppose in those days when they couldn’t get butter, couldn’t get sugar. You know, for their baking in war time and that.

Yeah, that photo there is my mother. That’s her on the left there, and that’s me behind her. I think I must have been about four then.

And that’s my grandmother, the one that made the ... she used to make the ginger crunch and shortbread.

Mum died in 1960. She died when I was five years old. And she’s buried in Waipapa urupa in Waitara because she’s from there. Te Āti Awa.

Nanny Floss didn’t bring Dad up. Granny Waipiti. She was a pretty well-known kuia here in Takapuwahia. So she brought Dad up.

And they used to do food parcels and they used to send them all over to the boys. They used to have, sort-of like, working bees down the marae and do all kai for them, especially around Christmas time and that.

And pack up all the cake tins with all goodies and that for them. And they used to do some of this, and the shortbread was a favourite, that used to go, and yeah, send all that over to them. And I think at the time Dad might have been in Italy, at that time.

Adding the butter.

You going to come and have a look at this? I’ll tip it in and then you can mix some, if you like.

You have to get the right consistency.

That looks nice.

Smells nice, eh?




Real comfort food.

And the whanau, they just love it. Every time ... when we have a tangi and stuff. Because it goes down really well and everybody loves it and it’s going to, you know, whānau that we love, of the people that have passed away.

So Matariki for me is the time when we can get together as a whānau. Whether it be for food or just catching up and talking about how, you know, what we’ve been doing.

But it’s yeah, it’s a beautiful time.

And, also, the meaning of Matariki and, thinking about is, I say, you know, our whanau that have passed on. Yeah. Which a lot of them have.


Making the frosting.




Oh yeah, icing.


We’re going to put six ... golden syrup.

There you go. Ka pai. That’s all done.

There we go. Ginger crunch.


That looks nice.


Look at that, Jesse George.

You can have the spoon when I’m finished.


Oh yes. The spoon.

It’s like licking honey off a stick.


Bon appetit. Ka pai te kai. It’s a sweet treat for Matariki.


The world needs more kuias because us mokos aren’t going to spoil ourselves!