Day: April 22, 2022

Kaimoana – Seafood

Kaimoana – Seafood


What is kaimona? Kaimoana refers to food which has been gathered from the sea. For many people, including Māori, kai is a very important part of culture because gathering, preparing and sharing kai shows hospitality and respect for visitors. Food and culture and customs around it create a sense of community. The word for beach in Māori is kahitua. Below is a list of some of the kaimoana we find in New Zealand:

  • Pāua – abalone
  • Ika – fish
  • Kōura – crayfish
  • Kina – sea eggs
  • Karengo – seaweed
  • Wheke – octopus
  • Pipi Tuangi – cockle


Pāua is the Māori name given to three New Zealand species of large edible sea snails and marine gastropod molluscs known in the United States and Australia as abalone. The three species of pāua in New Zealand are, blackfoot pāua (pāua), silver pāua (queen pāua) and marapeka (virgin pāua). New Zealand’s best known pāua species and the most common species can grow up to 18cm in width, they are simply known as pāua.  Pāua are commonly found in shallow coastal waters along rocky shorelines in depths of 1 to 10 metres. These large sea snails survive the strong tidal surges by clinging to rocks using their large muscular foot. They consume seaweed. Pāua are gathered recreationally and commercially but there are strict catch limits set for both. For those fishing recreationally they are only able to catch up to 10 pāua per person per day and they have to be over 125 mm in length for pāua and 80 mm for the queen pāua.



New Zealand has a diverse array of marine fish with over 1,000 known species. Around 11% of these species are endemic meaning that they are only found in New Zealand. Many of these are inshore species such as triplefines common in rock pools. Of the 270 species found inshore about 25% of them are endemic to New Zealand. Some of the key species that you will know of that are used at fish and chip shops or sold in stores are the blue cod, kahawai, kingfish, snapper and trevally. Like pāua there are limits to how much people can fish at one particular time and they must be a certain size. This differs on the type of fish so it is important to check regulations before you go fishing.



Kōura is the Māori name for crayfish. Crayfish are also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs or yabbies in other parts of the world. They are freshwater crustaceans that resemble small lobsters hence the name that they are given. Popularly known as crays, crayfish resemble lobsters but lack the lobster’s large crushing pincers on their first pair of walking legs. They inhabit rocky reefs at depths of 5 to 275 metres. Overseas, New Zealand crayfish have been marketed as rock lobster, and this name now has official status. The red crayfish species are found around the coast, they are more common although there is also the larger green packhorse crayfish that are widespread throughout New Zealand. Red crayfish grow to about 45–50 centimetres long and typically weigh around 2–3 kilograms, although 8-kilogram individuals have been caught. Packhorse crayfish grow up to 60 centimetres long and reach weights of 15 kilograms. Crayfish are a common delicacy on seafood platters in New Zealand with people loving to get their hands on.



Kina is a sea urchin that is endemic to New Zealand. They can reach a maximum diameter of 16-17cm. Kina have been a traditional component of Māori diet since pre-European times and have been fish commercially since 1986 in small quantities under the quota system. Kina is found all around New Zealand in shallow waters around 12-14 metres deep. There are also intertidal populations of kina found in the north of both the North and South Islands. Kina is mainly herbivorous, feeding on large brown algae and red algae. If kins populations become out of control kelp forests can be entirely eaten away, learning the rocks completely bare. Kina are often eaten by starfish and other fish in the ocean which keeps them from taking over kelp forests.



Octopus and squid belong to a group known as cephalopods meaning head-footed, the arms and tentacles are attached to the head. Their closest relatives include snails, slugs and shellfish. Octopuses have a mantle, head and eight arms. The mantle is the sac that contains the animal’s organs. The head has a brian, eyes and a beak like a parrots. They have succkes on thier arms. There are 42 species of octopus in the waters around New Zealand. They are not often seen, as most of them live on the seafloor. New Zealand is home to two of the world’s largest types of octopus. The giant gelatinous octopus grows to 4 metres and the giant South Pacific octopus reaches 3 metres.