Last night my mates dad drop us off some mussels, but these weren’t your ordinary mussels from the fish shop or pak’n’save, these were deep sea mussels bigger than my hand. Whilst everyone else was going crazy over the meat in the shell, I was concentrating on the shell itself. When I’m in the ngahere I always make sure I have a strong mussel shell with me so whilst I’m harvesting inner bark I know andcan be assured I wont go too deep to hurt the rakau.
I saw a photo of someone harvesting Raurekau bark with a knife and it just tore me to pieces because they didn’t just stop at the yellow bark they dug further into the white core (and they ring barked the tree). Using a mussel shell would have prevented them from cutting too deep, the shell also provides a scoop to catch the bark as you strip the tree. It’s important we take every opportunity possible to preserve our rakau when harvesting so our grandchildren can use the same tree when they need it in the future. Something as simple as a mussel shell is not only a beautiful way to harvest but also a way we can remember our Tipuna and their harvesting practices. This gift of mussels was so timely because I broke my last shell on my most recent ngahere trip, it had been with me for 7+ years so I was expecting it. Thank you Matua Hare, you rock! You didnt even realise it but you have blessed me for the next 20+years with these beautiful taonga.