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  • Kanakana (Geotria australis) in a black bucket.
    Rights: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Published 31 August 2022 Size: 3.7 MB Referencing Hub media

    Kanakana (Geotria australis) are an ancient and unusual species. They look a little like tuna but are jawless, instead using a sucker-like mouth to attach to and parasitise fish and whales.

    Commonly known as piharau in the North Island, kanakana are harvested using a variety of methods. These include:

    • harvesting by hand
    • using poles and rapu – sticks with hooks at the end
    • using hīnaki nets
    • kanakana – wooden weirs
    • whakaparu piharau – stone weirs
    • paipai – barriers made with small branches or a mat made of bracken.


    Ka kitea a Matariki, ka rere te korokoro
    (When Matariki is seen, the lamprey migrate)
    Keane (2010)

    He manawa piharau
    (to have great stamina or endurance)
    From Taranaki

    Related resources

    Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai video

    • Kanakana – featuring the Blair whānau from Murihiku
    • Download a PDF of the video transcript here


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