For generations, George Jackson’s family has baked with the help of the same “bug.” Said bug is actually a sourdough starter. The typical bug is a combination of flour, mashed potatoes, and the water they were boiled in. When fermented and mixed with more flour and water, the result is rēwena, traditional Māori sourdough.
Using his great-grandmother’s bug, Jackson started a bakery to make both sweet and sour parāoa, or bread. He still owns the cast-iron camp stove that his grandmother used, though he bakes the bread he sells to customers in standard rectangular tins.
Neither potatoes nor wheat arrived in New Zealand until the 18th century, but both were quickly adopted and adapted into staples by the Māori. Rēwena’s status as a cultural and culinary symbol has grown in recent years, along with other traditional foods that were long overlooked by the mainstream.
At his small shop, Jackson also serves traditional frybread and hāngi, trays of meat and vegetables cooked with steam. But it’s the rēwena that’s gotten the most attention. In June 2022, UNESCO’s Breads of the Creative Cities project chose Jackson’s rēwena bread to represent the city of Whanganui.
Know Before You Go
The bakery is only open Thursday through Saturday.