People from over 150 nations call New Zealand home. Every year we welcome thousands of migrants and refugees - and every year our cultural landscape and the definition of 'being kiwi' changes.
Vital Ingredients is a big-hearted, exuberant new series for TVNZ that celebrates this diversity and invites viewers to taste life as a new New Zealander.
Across the series we meet ten different families as they prepare their food for a celebration. The families come from Colombia, Croatia, Sudan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Burma and Kiribati - and the people are as vibrant and varied as the meals they cook.
Vital Ingredients offers up the world on a plate; a Sudanese Lum soup and spicy, crumbed fish, Afghani Mantu dumplings and Ferni, a cardamon & pistachio custard, Nepalese Sel Roti donuts, Sri Lankan Stringhoppers and a Palestinian favourite; chicken and almond Musakhan.
"The highlight of making this series was our families sharing both joyful and heartbreaking stories with us, while at the same time demonstrating how to cook their traditional dishes, not from a cookbook, but as mum taught them. Each mini-documentary is an engaging combination of stories for the soul and food for the belly', explains Director Dan Salmon.
Vital Ingredients explores each family's own unique journey; escaping the Taliban over the mountains of Afghanistan, being re-united with an Aunt they thought had been killed in the Sudanese war, hiding out with the Freedom Fighters in the jungles of Burma, or arriving from PNG and being mistakenly put in a Maori language class at school and getting the top prize for Te Reo.
'It's the people who give Vital Ingredients its astonishing flavour', says Producer Tash Christie. 'We feel incredibly privileged that they opened up their homes and lives to us with such generous spirit'.
We also celebrate the dance, music and traditions that our new kiwis have brought from home - wearing traditional tikka and Jamara for the Nepalese festival of Deshain, lighting lanterns at the Sri Lankan Wesak celebrations, dancing the Cumbia and Salsa for Colombian Independence day, singing a resonant Croatian song Ladarke to herald summer and a baby's wrist tying ceremony at a Burmese christening.