Family, culture and heritage mean the world to Ina Simpson. These values are the driving force behind Ina establishing her business, Rukau Hut Limited, which launched in June 2017.
Ina started her food business because she wanted to leave a legacy for her family, where traditional foods could be passed down from generation to generation.
Born in the Cook Islands, Ina moved to New Zealand in 1974 when she was nine months old. She was brought up eating traditional Cook Island food, including Rukau – the Cook Island’s word for Taro Leaves.
Ina cooks specially with Rukau which has many health benefits - as natural plant foods do. From her Rukau Steak Rolls, Rukau Pork Ciabatta to Rukau Burgers and Rukau Pie, the versatility of this natural ingredient is seemingly endless. Rukau can also be used to make soups, lasagne and curries.
Ina’s vision is to have Rukau sold in mainstream supermarkets and to be recognised by all Kiwi’s. Cook Islanders, who migrated to New Zealand like Ina, grew taro patches in their own backyards because it was so hard to find in supermarkets.
This enabled them to have a ‘taste of home’ and helped them keep ‘living the island way’ while getting used to a different country. Ina’s goal is to have enough Rukau grown locally to supply the growing population of Pacific Islanders to enjoy right here in New Zealand, and for Kiwis to extend their palate.
Through The Kitchen Project, Ina hopes to grow her business by getting a food truck up and running, so she is able to reach and educate all New Zealanders about Rukau, it’s benefits and how to use it. Ina also hopes to extend this by selling Rukau in supermarkets so all Kiwi’s can take it home and cook with it themselves.
Follow Ina on Facebook.
Keen to try Ina's food?
Find Ina at the Otahuhu Farmers Market every Thursday or at the Ormiston Family Market on Saturday 28 July.