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Slow Fish Stories by our Kaitaki

Slow Fish Stories by our Kaitaki

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Slow Fish is a significant part of the global Slow Food movement which has presence in 160 countries around the world. Slow Fish celebrates responsible artisanal fishing communities. As such it's a perfect fit for our Eat New Zealand #KnowYourFisher campaign. Despite being a South Pacific island nation with an exclusive economic zone fifteen times larger than our land area, our fishers have largely become invisible to our eaters, leading to disconnection and problems of social licence. What if, instead, we celebrated these amazing men & women and their incredible bravery to pull our food out of the ocean? How can we support them reconnecting to their communities as a way of telling the unique story of New Zealand kaimoana to our own people & to the world? This month our Kaitaki Collective have been tasked with finding a myriad of ways to celebrate the people who catch our fish.

We hope you enjoy the stories they have gathered...

Upstream from Slow Fish - By Liv Worsnop

The call of Slow Fish has been “know your fisher”. In imagining this scenario, I picture myself waiting on the banks and beaches for the catch of the day. I’ve foraged a salad, am stoking a fire and surrounded by friends. Yet I don’t eat on the banks or beaches. I eat at home, or at a restaurant and I have no idea how food such as fish has arrived on my plate. I still don’t know. Rather, I have gotten curious about the banks and beaches upon which I wish to wait.

The banks and beaches are the threshold a fisher crosses to gather from the waters. Upstream from the abundant waters of Aotearoa dictate downstream health. The hauora of these spaces is influenced by primary industry such as farming and forestry, and also by the cultural relationships we have with these ecosystems.

I wonder if gardening marginal and public land in a conscientious way could curate a culture of spending time with and care-taking our land? Would diversifying and valuing these ecosystems lead to an environment where we can know our fisher? Whilst also solidifying our connection to plants, waters and our fellow people?

You can read the rest of Liv's Slow Fish story here.

Words by Liv Worsnop - Gardener and Environmental Artist @plantgang

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Slow Fish in the fast age - By Abby Lawrence

As an island nation, we are born ocean lovers, surrounded by sea at every corner.

One would expect that this would naturally translate to having vibrant and sustainable local fishing communities within every coastal settlement, but such communities can be difficult to find.

Food is quite literally is our lifeblood, just as kaimoana is inherent in the Kiwi pysche. People today are increasingly wanting to know not only where their kai comes from but how it is produced/sourced, the environmental impacts as well as how far it has traveled to reach their plate, and this includes our fish and seafood.

Wouldn’t it be incredible to know where our kaimoana came from, to know the methods in which it was caught, and to know that the fishers were doing their part in protecting our fish stocks by learning each species seasonality, and so much more.

Enter the Slow Fish movement, which is founded on three key tenets of fish being good, clean and fair.

The Goodis where we see fish being sourced locally, and utilising the underused species. Here in Whakatāne in the Bay of Plenty we are incredibly lucky to have a local fishing company supplying the community with a variety of freshly caught local fish. And whilst I have not been able to get a comment on the fishing practices, I can see the positive impact having a local fisher in the community has, including seeing their offering of‘freefish frames’ being incredibly well received. An offering that not only benefits the locals, but one that is reducing waste from an industry with a huge amount of waste.

The Clean is seafood sourced using sustainable methods that respect not only the environment, and the fish stocks but also human health.

The Fair sees us sourcing seafood from artisanal and local fishers (that don’t adhere to cruel practises), as well as fish that is sold at a price that is right for consumers and provides the fishers fair payment. In this idea it becomes incredibly important to #knowyourfisher, giving you clarity on the wheres, whats and hows of a catch.

Local locakdown kaimoana

Over the hill from Whakatāne at Ōhope beach it is a common sight to see local fisherman setting up their lines. During lockdown when our local fishmonger was closed, and the supermarkets were not selling wet fish, recreational fishing was the only option. A walk on the beach would see you passing a wide range of fishers, from locals on kayaks(level3 and after) just past the breakers, fisherman in waders with their surfcasting lines, to the multitude of torpedos and their bright orange flags heading out through the waves towards Whakaari. The catches during this time were surprisingly abundant, whether this was due to no boats being allowed out and hence no trawlers making their way across the horizon each day, or to do with the seasons I cannot say. But it showcased the importance of local fishing, of small catches, of taking only what you need, and of protecting and preserving our incredible marine environment for generations to come.

Words by Abby Lawrence - Journalist & Content Creator @byarose

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Spearfished Butterfish Recipe shared by Ashleigh Barrowman.

Recipe by Georgia van Prehn - One Star Head Chef at Scotch Wine Bar, Blenheim.

This is a nice and simple recipe utilising easy to find seasonal produce, the earthiness of the silverbeet plays off really nicely against the butterfish.


4 portions of butterfish, roughly 160g each.

Discards from the fish can be used to create a fish stock to reduce waste

1 bunch of silverbeet, raw.

Orange butter sauce:

The sauce will make enough for 4 servings.

Juice of 4 oranges

2 tablespoons of liquid shio koji

200g of butter, diced


  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees on bake.
  • Chiffonade the silverbeet leaves and fine cube the stalk, set aside.
  • Oil and salt the portions of fish and place on a piece of baking paper, pop another piece of baking paper on top (this helps to prevent the fish from drying out too much in the oven) bake the fish for approximately 6 mins, a good way to check if fish is cooked is by poking it with a needle, if it slides through without resistance its cooked.
  • While your fish is cooking, boil the orange juice and shio koji together in a small pot until it reduces to about 2 tablespoons, then start to add your cubes of butter 1 at time while swirling the pan to emulsify the butter into the liquid. Alternatively you can use a whisk. The sauce should end up glossy and thick.
  • Pour the sauce liberally over the fish and arrange the silverbeet leaves and stem on top.
  • Enjoy!

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Slow Fish - by Kaitlyn Lamb

Video created by Kaitlyn Lamb @kaitlyngrowz. Environmentalist & Sustainability Eco Warrior.


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