Indepth

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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