Thursday, September 3, 2009

Down by the Sea

Rimirimu or parengo is the Maori word for seaweed and karengo for the specific Porphyra species that was commonly eaten. Rimurapa is the word for the bull kelp, which Maori used for storage – the fleshy inflatable blades of bull kelp were used as bags for preserving food. These kelp bags, or poha, were made by splitting the blades open and inflating them. They were then hung to dry, then deflated and rolled up. Then, southern Rakiura Maori would take them to the Titi Islands around Stewart Island, where they would be used for the storage of muttonbirds. An average-sized poha could hold up to 50 birds and when the bag was full, hot fat was poured in to exclude air and seal the birds. Birds are said to have remained safely preserved for up to five or six years in this way.
Maori traditionally used a number of red and green seaweed species as food, which they pulled off rocks in winter and spring. After it had been dried, the seaweed was stored and used as a good source of protein during the leaner winter months. It should be noted that the photographs I have used here may not be any of the species traditionally used by Maori. I photographed these off the wharf on Stewart Island simply because of their spectacular patterns and shapes moving in the clear water. A number of seaweed species are still protected by customary fishing law for tribal use.

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