Our product in-depth
The people of Ngati Porou have been smoking and preserving fish harvested from our local coastal waters for generations. With Ahia, we wanted to not only showcase our traditional cuisine but also demonstrate how we can sustainably produce on a larger scale to ensure our future generations have a greater abundance of kaimoana than we have today.
Utilising a diverse range of fish species is fundamental to the philosophy behind our Ahia branded smoked fish products. Where possible we use local, and often underrated, fish species some of which are caught as a by-catch of more popular fish harvesting. We pride ourselves on creating delicious high value products from sustainable species where a little goes a long way.
Most of our fish is landed at the Gisborne wharf, opposite the Ngati Porou Seafoods site where we fillet and prepare our smoked fish. We use a simple brining technique, before hot-smoking the fillets.
Our smoking methods have evolved over time and with the help of technology we can tailor our smoking methods to individual species. After many years of tweaking and perfecting, our Ahia team has developed unique smoke cycles for our fishes to bring the differing characteristics of each to light.
Hoki, for example, is a delicate fish and not traditionally smoked. We can’t be heavy handed with hoki, it needs to be treated with tender loving care. In fact, we practically sneak up on it and gently waft some smoke in its direction to get the succulent, golden Ahia smoked hoki we know and love. Kahawai on the other hand, with its high oil content, needs a good amount of time in the smoker to really absorb the flavours of the manuka smoke, that suits it so well.
Here is a synopsis of our Ahia smoked fish range.
_New Zealand hoki are a deep ocean species and stocks are considered well managed under the NZ Quota Management System (QMS)
_hoki is one of a few species in New Zealand to be certified sustainable by the Marine Steward Council (MSC).
_adult hoki can grow up to one metre in length
_mild in flavour, with a bright white succulent flesh that flakes into soft pieces when smoked
_soft spices like saffron, turmeric and nutmeg
_herbs such as coriander, basil, parsley, mint, Thai basil and spring onion
_citrus flavours such as lemon, lime, mandarin and finger limes
_coconut milk and mild cheese flavours
_seeds such as sunflower or sesame
Best used in
_the delicate flesh of smoked hoki is best suited to pasta dishes, risotto, salads, sushi, wraps, dips and spreads or eaten with fresh sourdough on a lunchtime platter
_named makataharaki or tikati in Maori, also known as Southern Kingfish and often dubbed the “ugly” fish
_smoked gemfish has a milder, smoked flavour, with smaller fish flakes, and uniform portion sizes.
_crisp salad vegetables, soft herbs, and all varieties of citrus
Best used in
_dishes where a medium smoked flavour is preferred such as smoked fish dips, rice and risotto dishes, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, sushi and seafood platters
_blue moki has nice dense fillets which flakes into large chunky pieces
_it can be identified by the grey “marbling” across the pure white flesh.
_blue moki is an ideal fish for smoking because it is so dense and holds together well, it picks up the stronger smoke flavours yet retains its succulence
_smoked blue moki matches well with spices, chilli, full-flavoured red and barrel-aged wines, robust sauces and salsas
Best use in
_smoked fish pies, dips, pizzas, seafood chowder, toasted sandwiches or tarts. A great alternative to smoked salmon.
_kahawai has a darker flesh, with more robust flavour than the average white fish. It’s a firm favourite amongst smoked fish enthusiasts
_exceptionally good when smoked because of the high oil content, which also means that it is rich in Omega-3 and natural protein
_strong flavours - spices, chilli, full-flavoured wines, robust sauces.
Best use in
_smoked kahawai is best used where a strong smoked flavour is desired such as smoked fish pies, dips and curries
_trevally or araara is part of the same family as the kingfish, Carangidae
_the medium smoke of the Ahia Trevally matches well with onions, garlic, lemons, and limes
_well suited to a platter accompanied with ripened cheeses, capers, gherkins, olives, peppers, fruit pastes, crudite and crackers
Best used in
_Ahia smoked trevally can be used in any smoked fish recipe, but in particular – kedgeree, smoked fish chowder or pies work beautifully
_the salmon used in Ahia products is sustainably harvested from ocean farms in the South Island.
_smoked salmon is one of the most commonly bought smoked fishes in New Zealand, due to the sweetness and rich flavour of smoke it absorbs
_salmon is a rich source of healthy Omega 3
_traditionally smoked salmon is paired with medium to strong flavours such as dill, red onions, pickles, kaffir lime, chilli and citrus
_hot-smoked salmon can be used with blue cheeses, mushroom varieties, nuts, seeds and all types of legumes
_a versatile smoked fish, salmon is brilliant dishes where the fish is the star, such as a salad, on a simple platter or mixed into a rich dip, spread or mousse
03 October 2020
Making Ahia our way
Kaitiaki or kaitieki, in the Ngati Porou dialect, is a relatively new term now used liberally across Aotearoa. For Ngati Porou , the concept of kaitieki/guardianship has simply been a way of life for generations.
In the words of our Chief Operating Officer, Ken Houkamau, “We are kaitieki of our natural environment that has been handed down from our tipuna. We are part of something bigger than ourselves. This is our tikanga, it’s how we operate and what underpins our business.”
Like many businesses we are working to identify and measure specific elements of sustainability against world standards, but a more holistic approach overlays this.
Ngati Porou traditions of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship, flow through our seafoods business from species selection to packaging. We are determined that our descendants – and all New Zealanders – will inherit a healthy marine environment that sustains them physically, economically, socially, spiritually and recreationally.
Our unique connection with the sea and our commitment to innovative science and fisheries management are key influencers in the development of Ahia products.
Ahia is the taste of our passion for the sea, the taste of our heritage, the taste of our respect for food from the ocean.
We are one of a handful of companies in the world who can claim full integration from supply to finished smoked fish product.
We source fish from the waters surrounding our New Zealand coastline, with the majority being landed at the Gisborne port, just across the road from our manufacturing site and the home of Ahia.
The fish species we select for Ahia products are harvested using sustainable fishing practices under the New Zealand Quota Management System.
Kahawai and trevally, our most recently launched smoked fish products were not chosen for their delicious flavours alone but also are species with high abundance.
We strongly believe that by producing a variety of smoked fish species, we can reduce the impact on individual species. We can make use of fish that are often caught as a by-catch.
Smoked fish can last longer than fresh fish and a little goes a long way. We focus our recipe creations around simple, healthy meal solutions for whole families.
We want you to have a rewarding experience when you try a smoked fish species you are not familiar with. Just small changes in fish consumption behaviour will have positive impact on ocean fish diversity.
Our aim is to have zero fish waste and to get maximum value out of each fish we handle. Our larger fillets are utilised in our packaged Ahia filleted products; our smoked fish fillets are also sold over the counter at our Real Fresh seafood shop in Gisborne and we now utilise smaller fillets and offcuts in our Ahia smoked fish spreads. Fish heads are also sought after locally in Gisborne. The remainder of the fish is not wasted but sold as fish bait. Having an integrated business model with our own local seafood outlet has been an important factor for our fish waste management.
We are committed to sourcing 100% sustainable (recyclable and/or biodegradable) packaging. Currently 98% of our packaging meets this standard however we are proactively working with suppliers to find a way to improve our performance that’s manageable for consumers and is workable within the limitations of the NZ waste management infrastructure.
We recently launched our Ahia smoked fish spreads in glass jars, which adds its own layer of complexity, but we strongly believed this to be the best packaging option for this product. Environmental impacts and consumer wellbeing were paramount in our decision-making process.
We look forward to sharing our journey with you.
Whaia te kauika a Tangaroa, Ma kona e ora ai, nga uri whakatipu
From the bounty of Tangaroa, we will sustain our future generations
25 August 2020