Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • Explore food and resource-gathering traditions practised by Ngāi Tahu whānau in Te Waipounamu.

    Download the PDF A framework for using the Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video series to teach social studies.

    Explore food and resource-gathering traditions in this interactive image map.

    This interactive features videos from Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai. The videos capture the stories and essence of traditional food-gathering practices passed down through the generations of Ngāi Tahu whānau. It also curates resources that aid learning about the practices and/or species.

    Mahinga/mahika kai is a highly significant concept for Māori and is specific to iwi and their rohe.

    To use this interactive, move your mouse or finger over any of the grey labelled boxes and select to obtain more information.

    The article Mahinga kai provides additional background information.

    Please note: the Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai videos link to YouTube.

    Background image sourced from Ministry for Primary Industries and licensed by MPI for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

    Index

    Transcript

    Pōhā

    Pōhā are storage containers used to transport and preserve important resources such as kōura, tuna and tītī (mutton birds). The pōhā used for tītī are made of rimurapa (bull kelp), harakeke and the shedding bark of the tōtara tree. These materials are carefully selected and prepared using knowledge passed down through generations.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Pōhā awarua – featuring pōhā expert Graham ‘Tiny’ Metzger, Ngāti Kurī/Rakiura
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Video

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Kōura

    Aotearoa is home to both freshwater and marine species of kōura (crayfish). Matapara, pawharu or kōura papatea (rock lobster) can be found along much of the coastline with concentrations along the east coast and southern parts of the country.

    Some areas are particularly well known for their kōura populations such as Kaikōura – also known as Te Ahi kai kōura a Tama ki te Rangi – the place where Tama ki te Rangi cooked crayfish.

    Kōura were traditionally harvested by hand or using pouraka – round pots constructed from the stems of pirita (supplejack) and lashed together with harakeke fibre. As well as this technique, diving and commercial fishing vessels are used for harvesting.

    Freshwater kōura are important species in repo (wetlands). They were traditionally harvested using tau kōura. The mātauranga and rangahau that underpin tau kōura are now being used to monitor freshwater kōura around the globe.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Kōura – featuring Kaikōura local Butch McDonald
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Activity

    Building a tau kōura – Science Learning Hub

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Tuna

    There are three species of tuna (freshwater eels) found in Aotearoa – longfin, shortfin and Australian spotted longfin. Tuna are one of the most important mahinga kai species. They are known to Māori by over 100 different names depending on their location and appearance.

    Longfin tuna are endemic to Aotearoa and are classified as at risk – declining due to the impact of wetland drainage and other environmental changes.

    Several techniques are used to harvest tuna including the use of baited hīnaki.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Tuna – featuring Iaean Cranwell harvesting and preparing tuna from Lake Wairewa
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Videos

    Activity

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Īnaka

    The name īnaka often describes the juveniles of five native fish species from the Galaxiidae family, but it can also be used to refer to the adults of these species. Various iwi use a variety of names for both juvenile and adult fish, as well as names to describe migrating or returning fish.

    Īnaka are threatened by the decline in the quantity and quality of their habitats. Threats include the loss of repo, degradation of spawning grounds and barriers (culverts and floodgates) that disconnect migration and habitats.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Īnaka – featuring Paul Wilson from Te Waipounamu’s West Coast

    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Videos

    Activity

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Kanakana

    Kanakana (Geotria australis) are an ancient and unusual species. They look a little like tuna but are jawless, instead using a sucker-like mouth to attach to and parasitise fish and whales.

    Commonly known as piharau in the North Island, kanakana are harvested using a variety of methods. These include:

    • harvesting by hand
    • using poles and rapu – sticks with hooks at the end
    • using hīnaki nets
    • kanakana – wooden weirs
    • whakaparu piharau – stone weirs
    • paipai – barriers made with small branches or a mat made of bracken.

    Whakataukī

    Ka kitea a Matariki, ka rere te korokoro
    (When Matariki is seen, the lamprey migrate)
    Keane (2010)

    He manawa piharau
    (to have great stamina or endurance)
    From Taranaki

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Kanakana – featuring the Blair whānau from Murihiku
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Pātiki

    There are several different species of pātiki (flounder) including:

    • pātiki – sand flounder
    • pātiki mohoao – black flounder
    • pātiki tōtara – yellow-belly flounder

    Pātiki belong to the flatfish family and can be found in the shallow surf and estuaries around the coast of Aotearoa. Pātiki mohoao are the only truly freshwater species of the family.

    Harvesting pātaki includes using techniques such as spearing and nets.

    Declining water quality is impacting pātiki populations and harvesting.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Pātiki – featuring Don Brown who lives by Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere – Te Kete Ika a Rākaihautū/The Fish Basket of Rākaihautū
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Pāua

    Pāua are large sea snails found in shallow coastal waters on rocky shorelines. They survive by having a hard shell and clinging to rocks with a large muscular foot. Pāua are highly valued as kaimoana and are important for manaakitanga ki ngā manuhiri (hosting of visitors). The shells, which have a blue-green iridescence on the inside, are used for creating ornaments and fish hooks and are added to carvings.

    Blackfoot pāua (Haliotis iris) are the most commonly found and caught species. Yellow-foot pāua (Haliotis australis) are only caught in small numbers. Pāua have small home ranges, and seeding has been used to help restore populations.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Pāua – featuring Khyla Russell and Brendan Flack, pāua protectors who live by the Karitane coastline north of Dunedin
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Toheroa

    Toheroa (Paphies ventricosa) are large endemic clams found in the intertidal zones in west and south-facing Northland, Kāpiti and Southland beaches. Once abundant, populations have substantially decreased from overharvesting. Despite toheroa being protected, their populations have failed to recover.

    Techniques aimed at protecting and growing toheroa beds have included translocation. Rāhui have included stopping harvests during the main spawning time – indicated by the flowering of kūmarahou – restricting harvests to 2 days a year and enacting a full-scale ban.

    Unfortunately, challenges such as water pollution, illegal harvesting and vehicles driving over beds and crushing juveniles continue to add pressure to toheroa populations.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Tohera – featuring Cyril Gilroy gathering toheroa at Ōreti Beach
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Video

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Tuaki

    The tuaki, tuangi or New Zealand cockle is an endemic shellfish that lives just below the surface of the sand. They are subtidal, found up to 10 m deep and are common all around Aotearoa. Tuaki were often harvested by the locals using their feet to dig down into the sand, then their toes to bring the tuaki to the surface, always leaving the small ones behind.

    Gathering tuaki with whānau is a fun activity, and for many people, tuaki are an important food source. In some places, populations are under pressure.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Tuaki – featuring Meri and Charlie and four generations of Crofts at Koukourārata – harvesting for customary take
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Article

    Video

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Mōkihi

    Mōkihi (mohi, mōkī or mogi) are rafts made of bundles of raupō, flax stalks or rushes. They were an essential means of transport for early Māori travelling the waterways of Te Waipounamu. Designed to be light, buoyant and easily constructed, they allowed for crossing waterways in search of resources such as kai and pounamu.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Mōkihi – featuring mōkihi expert Joe Wakefield
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Tī kōuka

    The tī kōuka (Cordyline australis) is a resilient tree found throughout Aotearoa in forest margins, wetlands and open spaces such as farmlands.

    The tough fibrous quality of the leaves makes tī kōuka useful for creating anchor ropes, snares and nets, for weaving and as a fire starter. The tree is an important food source and rongoā, and the distinctive shape of the tree means they can be used as place markers. Some iwi use the trees’ flowering to make predictions about the weather.

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Tī Kōuka – featuring Karl Russell, a local mahinga kai aficionado, as he takes a journey of discovery to explore the taste, texture and appeal of this once staple of the local diet
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Articles

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Rongoā

    Rongoā is a holistic healing system connected to the concept of hauora. It includes the use of native plants to heal both people and the environment. The collection and preparation of plants for rongoā involves tikanga specific to individual iwi and hapū.

    Species well known for their medicinal and healing properties include koromiko, harakeke and kawakawa. It is essential to have an understanding of the plants being used to ensure safety and protection of sources of rongoā. In preparation, parts of the plants such as roots and leaves can be made into poultices or tonics or simply chewed.

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Rongoā – featuring Maurice Manawatu from Kaikōura
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here

    Related resources

    Articles

    Videos

    • Rongoā and repo – Science Learning Hub
    • Tihei Taiao – tipu in te taiao, what our tīpuna used them for, their kai or rongoā uses and how to identify them – Te Amokura Productions

    Collection

    Image acknowledgment: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato Published 30 August 2022 Size: 7.3 MB Referencing Hub media
        Go to full glossary
        Download all