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This week marks the start of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori - Māori language week in Aotearoa. At midday on September 14th 2020 more than 700,000 people across the country will speak, sing or listen to te reo Māori.
We hope this Slow Fish story by our Ōtautahi Kaitaki Collective member Priyanka Jayarajan about FUSH a 'Real Fish and Chips Restaurant' in Ōtautahi to inspire you to have a go at te reo Māori today and when you next make your ika and tipi order...
I speak as a fisher ignoramus, but it is probably easier to catch fish sustainably than to find food joints in Christchurch that do sustainable fish on their menus!
One such space setting a new standard for the kiwi staple of fish & chips is Fush down at Wigram, Christchurch. Anton Matthews and his whānau are the proud owners of Fush who are spearheading not one but two much needed movements; promoting locally sourced fresh Kaimoana while keeping the Te Reo Māori tongue alive.
Fush upholds the core values of Kaitiakitanga which Anton elaborates on beautifully, “We all descend from our atuas (gods of nature’s forces) who we believe are our ancestors. We must do everything in our capacity to protect them and our Papatūānuku (mother earth). Kaitiakitanga is part of who we are, we need to leave the world in a better state than we found it and following this tradition has gained all the more importance in today’s tough times.”
Staying true to this mission, Fush cooks up the freshest catch of Deep sea cod (line caught) sourced from Westfleet over at the West Coast and Blue cod from Ahurea Kai from the Chatham Islands every day. Anton assures me that all Kaimoana caught is 100% traceable down to the fisher, no trawling which means minimal bycatch.
Apart from feeding the community, the people at Fush are on a mission to normalize Te Reo and integrate it into our everyday (as it should be). What is holding New Zealand back from becoming a bilingual nation I ask?!
From hosting classes that attract thousands to educating customers at Fush on how to order their food in Te Reo, their Tikanga is sprinkled into everything they do.
A challenge they grapple with is breaking old pre conceived notions tied to cheap, greasy fish & chips to be able to turn it into something healthier and sustainable but this comes at a cost which Anton says some customers don’t always understand, “But most of our guests are converts once they eat our fish. They can taste the value, they get it. They like the story we tell and believe we are more than just a fish & chip shop.”
As I devour my deep sea cod bao, freshly crumbed moments before being dipped into the fryer, smothered with smooth tartare sauce whipped up on the same morning I am transported to my homeland of the Kolis. Kolis are the indigenous fisherfolk from Mumbai and much like the Māori, live by a very similar ethos when it comes to fishing sustainably. Come to think of it I shouldn’t even stress on the buzzword ‘sustainably’ because as far as these people are concerned there just isn’t any other way. I can’t help but be in awe of how two completely unrelated cultures and people can imbibe the same unbounded love for their waters and everything that thrives in them.
So to the people out there listening, next time you buy Kaimoana from someone don’t forget to ask if they know where it comes from? Chances are the more you can tell me of the fish I am about to eat, the holier will be my experience of relishing it.
#knowyourfisher or in this case #knowyourfusher
Words by Priyanka Jayarajan our Kaitaki Collective Member - a marketing professional turned photographer and illustrator. Born and bred in Mumbai, she is now based in Christchurch.
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