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About Mahinga Kai:

Ngāi Tahu has launched their own web-based documentary series, Mahinga Kai. The online series tells stories of traditional food gathering methods passed down and why those practices are so significant to the South Island tribe.
A lifestyle series featuring 12 ten minute episodes filmed in the stunning landscape of Te Waipounamu. It captures the stories and essence of traditional food gathering practices passed down through the generations.
The series offers a window into the lives of Ngāi Tahu whānau carrying on the food gathering traditions of their ancestors – from tūna and pātiki on the east coast, medicinal rongoā plants in the north and kanakana in the far south. Through our characters we explore the evolution of the practice – its past, present and future and we learn about the species and their natural environment.



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    Tuna – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    The annual tuna migration from Lake Wairewa is a site to behold as the mature female tuna make their way across the shingle to the sea on their journey to Tonga. Local Ngāi Tahu take this opportunity to dig drains, sustainably harvest and process those not quick enough to escape. The locals, including our talent Iaean Cranwell are well known for their succulent, delicious smoked tuna.


    Tī Kouka – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai


    Tuaki – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    Meri and Charlie Crofts at Koukourarata – four generations of the Crofts whānau gather cockles, we investigate the degradation of the cockle bed and how cockles are now only harvested for customary take.


    Rongoā – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    Maurice Manawatu in Kaikōura makes traditional medicines. He takes school groups through the forests and shows them how to make traditional medicines with the plants they gather.


    Pāua – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    The spectacular Karitane coastline just north of Dunedin, once awash with the much sought after delicacy that is Pāua – pāua steaks, pāua patties, pāua in cream or just plain raw…now a fishery protected by customary fishing regulations to ensure its future. Khyla Russell and Brendan Flack are two locals with a passion for protecting and enhancing its health and abundance to make sure there will always be a feed for them and their whānau.


    Mōkihi – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    Mōkihi or mogi were an essential means of transport for early Māori travelling the waterways of Te Waipounamu. They were light, buoyant and easily constructed. A clever innovation designed to traverse the waterways of Te Waipounamu in the search for kai. Long since replaced in a practical sense by fiberglass and modern technology, the art and craft of mōkihi lives on through the passion and dedication of people like Joe Wakefield.


    Kanakana – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    Older than the dinosaur, the kanakana is a taonga species for Ngāi Tahu whānau especially those from Murihiku like the Blair whānau. Kanakana migrate from around August to the end of October swimming up the Waikawa and Mataura rivers on route to their spawning grounds upstream.


    Pātiki – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    Te Waihora was once a considerable tribal resource known as Te Kete Ika a Rākaihautū – The Fish Basket of Rākaihautū and home to the sand, yellow belly and black flounder. Today, it is one of New Zealand’s most polluted lakes. We visit local kaumātua Don Brown who has lived his entire life on the lakes edge. We learn about Te Waihora and its importance to Ngāi Tahu as a food source and we talk to David Perenara-O’Connell and Craig Pauling about the restoration of the lake and the vision for its future.


    Pōhā – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai …

    Eighty-five-year-old Tiny Metzger has been making poha for as long as he can remember. The bull kelp and totara bark food storage container is an innovation at least 100 years ahead of its time. For Tiny and his whānau it is an annual tradition as they prepare to head to the Tītī Islands for the birding season.


    Tī Kōuka – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    The plains and valleys of South Canterbury were once abundant with Tī Kouka, sustaining whole communities not only as a food source but also as a fire starter, material for making protective clothing and a marker in the landscape. These days they are more appreciated for their aesthetic value than their practical uses. Local Mahinga Kai aficionado Karl Russell, takes us on a journey of discovery to explore the taste, texture and appeal of this once staple of the local diet.

  • EPISODE 11

    Toheroa – Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai

    Cyril Gilroy takes us to Ōreti beach where we dig for the much prized tohera. We meet the marae cooks who tell tales of gathering this once plentiful bounty and although we can’t get a decent soup recipe out of them we are treated to a decent feed of patties.



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