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Waipara - Rongoā for my Bones

Updated: Sep 16


My bone broth of Waipara

There is no aroma more fulfilling then that of food cooking in the kitchen that reminds us of days of old. The scintillating steam of pork bones or bacon bones being boiled fills the home of rich nostalgic memories of mum and dad and grandparents. It’s warming for the soul and makes us feel good.


It makes us feel good because of the memories that the smell holds for us. The smell can take us back in time to days of warmth and cosiness by the fire. Days of feeling safe and warm in the comfort of our childhood homes surrounded by whanau. We remember how we used to be...free and wild as children and everything was magical. We listened to the sound of what was happening in the kitchen as everyone participated in preparing the meal.




I remember my mum would make a boil up with watercress or pūhā. Mum and dad would often go and harvest watercress in local spots around our town and I would go with them. They had about 3 places where they would go and harvest, and once we had enough for the weekend we would head back home. It was not surprising to see whanau in the same spots harvesting so it was quite a sociable event. It was a familiar site to see mum (and others) in the market garden next door bending over and picking pūhā. It's a celebrated ritual and I miss seeing that. I miss seeing the shape and silhouette of that memorable landscape.



Indigenous pūhā

It's a struggle to show our younger ones the importance of our native greens. The wild,iron-rich greens that we added to our bone broth. Just like the indigenous Pūhā that struggles to grow against the more exotic, faster growing sow thistles, it's in decline.


I can recall the aroma that filled our little kitchen when the boil up was cooking. For me, the best part of the boil-up was the juice. We called it Waipara but there are lots of different names for it. Waipara is what my father called it, and it's what his parents called it . The juice is absolutely delicious. It has the most wonderful taste and I could'nt get enough of it. It was rongoā for my bones.


Now I am making it and I try to keep to the way my mother cooked it and achieve the same flavour and aroma.


The Benefits of Bone Broth


The magic in the bone broth is in the cooking of the bones. The idea is to cook the bones for a long period of time to extract the marrow. It is in the marrow where all the nutrition and healthy benefits lie. Bone broths provide building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining and they have a soothing effect on any areas of inflammation in the gut. 


The joint tissue cooks down and dissolves into the broth.  Joint building blocks like gelatin and chondroitin sulfate (which are sold as expensive supplements to treat and prevent osteoarthritis) are readily available in bone broth, easily absorbed by our bodies and are quickly used to rebuild and repair our connective tissue, which includes joints, tendons and ligaments. The longer bones are cooked, the softer they become and the more minerals they release into broth.

Minerals are plentiful in broth, and it can be difficult to get the same levels elsewhere in the diet.  Gelatin, which broth is also rich in, is a very important and easily digested protein which improves tissues all over the body. 

Bone marrow is where our bodies produce red blood cells and white blood cells.  It contains a high concentration of stem cells. By cooking down bone marrow we get everything we need to build new red and white blood cells.  White blood cells are the cells in our bodies that control our immunity and handle infections, and they are made in the bone marrow.


Since consuming bone broth I have noticed I don't feel the cold as much. My bones are warm. It's like the broth has coated my bones with a warming gel and provides protection for me against the harsh cold elements of winter. Warm bones ensure that everything else in the body is warm these are our building blocks , our brickwork, our foundations for exceptional healh.



Broth with pūhā and kopakopa added

As I sit here writing I am smelling the aroma of bacon bones cooking, filling our home and providing me with a myriad of memories. I look at my husband and I wonder what the smell is doing for him. Perhaps it is bringing back memories for him from another time? While I ponder this my dough boys are sitting in the bowl covered by a teatowel waiting to go into the boilup in the last few minutes. My energy is filled with warm memories so I am content knowing that what I am feeling would be transferred into the dough.


Bones of Waiata. Our Signature Tune in the Form of Kai


How we grow the food and create with it becomes embedded in our bodies as memories. Our memories are impressed in our cells and our DNA and passed on through generations. We relate a memory to food or food to a memory. Memories are landscapes of mauri, treasure filled vibrations that are triggered each time something significant touches our heart.

I see now that the aroma and the flavour of our boil-up is a signature sound being passed down from generation to generation. A waiata that invigorates and vibrates our bones to the core and helps us to remember.


My Recipe for Waipara


I try to keep the keep the boil-up as organic as possible. I harvest puha from my backyard and purchase the bones from my local organic butcher.


  • Add bones to a crockpot and have the setting on low. I like to add pork bones and beef bones for added flavour.

  • Add puha or watercress to the pot along with chopped kumara.

  • Cook on low for 24-48 hours.

I'm cooking everything together to enable the flavours and nutrients to combine. It's not about the pulp for me, it's about the juice, the Waipara.


After 24-48 hours, cool the crockpot and allow the fat to settle on top and scoop it out.

In the old days, mum would keep the fat for future cooking. I use it for making specific balms for bones.


  • Next, scoop out the bones and pulp and strain the juice.

  • Warm the juice and season to taste.

  • Freeze some of the broth for later use.

  • Drink the broth as it is or use for making soups or add to casseroles.



The fat forms on the top when the broth has cooled. It makes it easier to scoop out

I ladle some of the broth into my dogs food because it is so good for him. It aids with their immune system as well as ours. They love bones because of the marrow too.


I cannot stress enough how incredibly powerful bone broth is for us. I talk about it to everyone who will listen. I talk about our boil-ups and it conjours up memories for them who will willingly share their boil-up stories. I'll raise the memory of the juice and what name their whanau had for it. I can guarantee there is always a new name I haven't heard before.


What's your traditional juice called?



We would keep the fat for future cooking. I now use it for specific balms. This is rongoā, packed with nutrients and minerals that can easily be absorbed through the skin

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