Maori Cookery Before Cook. What impact did migration from a tropical homeland have on Maori cookery? They experienced drastic changes in their traditional foods, yet the rules that were part of their Polynesian culinary tradition remained intact. In the first of her 2008 Macmillan Brown lectures, Prof Helen Leach of the University of Otago argues that culinary traditions are important for the survival and the maintenance of our identities. Leach draws a distinction between culinary traditions and cuisines and explores how Maori adapted tropical cuisine to new food sources.