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Māori inspired cookie cutters to help Kaumātua connect with their heritage. 

MWDesign have designed 3 new cookie cutters for Rauawaawa Kaumatua Charitable Trust in Hamilton, to compliment the first six designs.

We are thrilled to bring you our new “Māra” set of 3 cookie cutters. An acknowledgement of Aotearoa’s botanicals, this set includes the Pōhutukawa (whero-red), Kawakawa (kakariki-green), and Kōwhai (Kōwhai-yellow) shaped cookie cutters. Bring one-of-a-kind Māori designs into your kitchen and make uniquely shaped cookies with these Kuki Reka Kani, loosely translated as cookie cutters.


Kōwhai is a Māori word meaning yellow, and the Kōwhai tree, a native of New Zealand is well known for their bright and beautiful yellow flowers that are also regarded as New Zealand’s unofficial national flower. There are several species, some having healing properties such as solutions made from boiling the bark or leaves for applying to cuts, wounds and infections. In Māori folklore the Kōwhai is a Puawānanga tree. Puawānanga was said to be the child of the stars Puanga (Rigel in Orion) and Rehua (Antares in Scorpio). In some traditions, the appearance of Puanga signalled winter and Rehua summer – Puawānanga trees flower in the months between them.

The Kōwhai cookie cutter design showcases the bright yellow of the Kōwhai flowers whilst also capturing the flowers, pods and leaf stem in its shape.

The Pōhutukawa for Māori is a sacred tree, legend tells of the young Māori warrior, Tawhaki and his attempt to find help in heaven to avenge his father's death. He subsequently fell to earth and the bright red flowers are said to represent his blood. Potentially the most famous pōhutukawa in Māori legend is a small, old tree near Cape Reinga where the spirits of the dead pass on their way to the next world.

Also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree, Pōhutukawa are often found in coastal areas and are well known for their large, red flowers on display around Christmas time. The Pōhutukawa cookie cutter represents the flower of the tree in all its beautiful whero/red glory.

The Kawakawa for Māori is a source of rongoa, used for medicinal purposes in matters ranging from stomach ailments, bladder problems and even toothache. Wāhine Māori in certain areas will also wear a wreath of Kawakawa on their head during a tangi/funeral ceremony as a sign of mourning.

Also known as the pepper tree, the Kawakawa is a small, densely-branched shrub/tree with gorgeous heart-shaped leaves. The Kawakawa cookie cutter represents the beautifully shaped leaf in a striking deep green.


Kuki Reka Kani are 9 unique cookie cutters, developed and named by Kaumātua at Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust as part of a social enterprise called, REKA -Rauawaawa Enterprise for Kaumatua Aspirations. The cutters were initiated to help Kaumātua with dementia, to engage in cooking therapy that promoted Te Ao Māori, cultural heritage and whakapapa in a social and fun way. Cooking therapy stimulates smell, taste and touch senses in dementia patients which can bring back memories from decades ago. All funds raised currently go towards supporting our Kaumātua and providing a dementia and age-friendly facility upgrade for Rauawaawa.

Rauawaawa was incorporated in 1997 by several Kaumātua in Hamilton to help address the issue of loneliness being experienced by a growing number of Kaumātua at that time. Today Rauawaawa serves over 650 Kaumātua locally and over 300 Kaumātua nationally. The vision of the Trust is to “enhance the quality of life and well-being of Kaumātua,” by providing a range of culturally focussed and accessible health and wellbeing, educational, welfare and housing support services as well as recreational events.


Rauawaawa needed a method to generate an income to help Kaumātua, as well as upgrade their 1941 facilities. The cutters and cookies made, packaged and sold locally, nationally and internationally provide a huge sense of success for Kaumātua belonging to the Rauawaawa community and are inspirational for what can be achieved by other Kaumātua roopu throughout Aotearoa.

Kaumātua can express their heritage, using pūrākau (traditional story telling) to pass on ancient legends to their rangatahi (youth), inspired by the modern Māori patterns carved into the dough within traditional shapes of taonga. The 6 kuki reka kani reflect traditional Māori designs that were guided and chosen by Kaumātua to be appropriate to be used in the context of food.

The cutters are designed to cut through the dough and leave a pattern imprinted on the dough in one easy push. This makes them gentle on both elderly hands as well as providing a large grip for children to hold. The patterns reflect the look of the chiselled traditional whakairo rākau (wood carving), an important and respected role in Māori culture. Kaumātua can feel this connection to their whakapapa when using the cutters.

We worked with the chefs at Rauawaawa to develop the designs to work easily with both professional pastry chefs, kaumātua and amateur bakers at home.

After the pandemic, the Kaumātua wanted to support the local community. All cutters and packaging for the cutters are therefore created and manufactured in the Waikato.

The Rauawaawa Kaumātua Trust has since raised over $100,000 from sales of Kuki Reka Kani and cookies, to go towards supporting their Kaumātua.

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