Whakatōhea celebrates first harvest from Mussel farm

By Wena Harawira
  • North Island: East Coast

The Whakatōhea tribe is celebrating its first harvest of mussels from its own offshore farm in the eastern Bay of Plenty. 

The tribe has struck a deal with Foodstuffs to sell its mussels under the brand name ‘Open Ocean’ through New World and Pak n Save supermarkets throughout the North Island.

The first harvest began with a dawn karakia at sea aboard the mussel processing vessel, Northern Quest. By 10am, more than 400 bags of mussels weighing 25kgs each were being transported to Auckland for processing and distribution.

Kaumātua Te Riaki Amoamo was a member of the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board who instigated the venture 17 years ago. The consent process alone took 10 years before research and development could begin.

“This has been achieved for our people by those who started it with vision and hope,” he said.

Mr. Te Amoamo planned to take a bag of mussels for the hākari of the Tekau-Mā-Rua, a Ringatū service, at Ōmarumutu marae near Opotiki.

“Hei whakaaro pai mā ngā tangata katoa - as a gesture of goodwill for the people.”