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Muriwhenua Accounts of Fishing Prior to 1840

One of the most influential early records of fishing by Maori in pre european times. These accounts are a must read for anyone interested in botht he history of fishing and maori custom but also for the many insights it gives us into the way the marine system was in its more ‘natural’ state beforr european fishing began.

You can see the entire report on this Waitangi Tribunal website.

You can download the entire Muriwhenua Fishing Report Wai-22 claim here

Here is just a taste of what you will find:

 "The grey mullet is a very familiar fish to residents in the northern part of the Colony, where it forms a staple article of food among the natives at certain seasons, and is one of the commonest fish sold in Auckland . . .. The Natives frequently capture them on still, moonless nights . . ."

" Fifty years ago shark-fishing was considered and looked forward to as a national holiday by the Rarawas and all the surrounding hapus. The traditional customs and regulations were most strictly observed and rigidly enforced. The season for fishing the kapeta (dogfish) was restricted to two days only in each year. The first time was about full moon in January, and by preference during the night named in the Maori lunar calendar rakaunui, or two evenings after the full moon. This fishing was always by night. The second time of fishing, called the pakoki, was two weeks later, just after new moon (whawha-ata), and was always held in daylight. This closed the season for the year. Any one who killed a shark after this would be liable to the custom of muru, and would be stripped of his property. No one was permitted to commence fishing before the signal to start was given; a violation of this rule would lead to the splitting-up of the canoes of the offenders. So far as I can ascertain, the two days' restriction was a local custom, obtaining more particularly in Rangaunu Harbour, which was the great shark-fishing centre of the north, and it specially applied to the kapeta, or dogfish. Large sharks might be taken at any time in the open sea, but they were not to be killed inside the harbour for fear of frightening away the kapeta: 'Kei oho te kapeta'."


 Photo reprinted courtesy of: The North by Barry Mitcalfe, Coromandel press, 1981, p44

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