South Pacific islands

Barbecuing is popular in the AustralasianMelanesianMicronesian, and Polynesian islands, and every country and culture has its own version of earth oven barbecue cuisine. Some of the most legendary and continuously-practiced examples can be found in South Pacific Oceania.

Tahitians call their earth oven barbecue a Hima’a. A thousand miles away in the Marquesas Islands, there’s the Umu. With many tropical islands’ styles of barbecue, the meat is marinated, glazed with a savory sauce, and adorned with local tropical fruits.


The cooking customs of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia became the traditional Hawaiian barbecue of Kalua in an underground oven called an Imu, and the Luau, of the Native Hawaiians. It was brought to international attention by 20th century tourism to the Hawaiian islands.


In Australia barbecues are a popular summer pastime. Coin-operated or free public gas or electric barbecues are common in city parks. While Australian barbecue uses similar seasonings to its American counterpart, smoking or sugary sauces are used less often. More commonly meat is marinated for flavour and then is cooked on a hot plate or grill. Australian barbecues tend to be either all hot-plate or half and half hot-plate/grill. The barbecuing of prawns (“shrimp” in the USA) has become increasingly popular in Australia but was not popular at the time of the American TV commercial featuring Australian actor Paul Hogan.

Barbecues are also common in fund raising for schools and local communities, where sausages and onions are served on white bread with barbecue sauce or ketchup. These are most often referred to as “Sausage Sizzles”.

New Zealand

Barbecues are a very popular activity and cuisine in New Zealand. As well as being a common feature in gardens of New Zealanders, barbecues are also found at most campsites and many beaches throughout the country. Foods cooked include beef, lamb, pork, fresh fish, crayfish, shellfish, and vegetables. Sausages are a well liked and demanded element of barbecues, and as in Australia “sausage sizzles” are one of the most common form of fundraiser. New Zealand barbecue is similar to a mix of American, British, Australian, South African and Pacific Island styles.

New Zealand’s Maori have the hangi, a type of earth oven cooked on special occasions. Multi-cultural society in New Zealand has also led to Pakistani/Indian, East Asian, South American and Middle Eastern cuisines all influencing the flavours and types of food found at a barbecue.

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