Yesterday as we were taking a walk along the Wellington waterfront towards Oriental Bay (having just climbed to the top of Mount Victoria and back down again – another post on this to come!), we spotted a couple of people with a plentiful box of kina next to the water. Intrigued, we sat down near them and began to chat. Could these amazing looking creatures – and a source of food, considered a delicacy by many Māori people – have been found in our local (working) harbour, a stone’s throw away from our own front door?
Sure enough, they had been! The very friendly guy who had waded out to find these intriguing specimens told us that the Wellington harbour is full of sea-life, and before I knew it, I was being offered some kina to try… I can report that this is an acquired taste, and personally, I wouldn’t rush back for more anytime soon! But it was an interesting experience, and it’s not every day that you get to eat something so fresh and local. We sat and chatted for a while, watching the kina-catcher’s brother snorkeling in the middle of the bay.
Our new friends can be seen at the water’s edge in the photo above; this small interaction stayed in my mind for the rest of the day, and I felt lucky to be back living in a country where I understand the language fully, and where this enables us to again have these kinds of random encounters with a friendly strangers, and to learn something in the process (we learnt, for example, about the best local spots to find mussels, and about the varied fish-species inhabiting the harbour). Whilst we loved living overseas, getting to know different cultures and to be challenged by the daily immersion in different languages and customs – and we would love to do so again – there is something comforting and pleasant about being back here as well. As the day went on, the beauty of the kina stayed in my mind too – this spiky sea urchin is certainly unique.
Photos by CIA, Oriental Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, 24 November 2012. Kia ora to the friendly guy who shared this kaimoana with me and his knowledge with us on Saturday afternoon.