Mussel power

Like Neptune's necklaces swaying to Pacific swells, ropes of greenshell mussels create intriguing (and nutritionally rewarding) alleyways for cruising fish at Port Charles, on the eastern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. Here, and at hundreds of other coastal sites in the North and South Islands, greenshell mussels are grown in their millions to satisfy a worldwide demand for a unique shellfish. No other green mussel is available on international fish markets, and New Zealand's Perna canaliculus not only looks better, but, say aficianados, tastes better than other mussel varieties. From a fledgling industry in the 1970s (300 tonnes was the total harvest in 1977), mussel farming has become the country's dominant aquaculture industry, with a harvest of close to 50,000 tonnes in 1992. Despite a setback this summer, in which all harvesting was banned following a bloom of toxic algae, the country's mussel farmers are determined to see our local "heroes in a half shell" recognised as the world's best mussel.



Apr - Jun 1993

Edible fungi

Drinking water

East cape hikoi

A & P shows




Science & Environment

Nature's Champagne

Cascading with unquenchable fury into vast night, the dimly seen Niagara shakes the air with the thrum of its endless arrival. Its cool vaporous breath exhales over the inky water, perfumed by the fragrances of its earthy confinement.


Where town meets country

For 150 years, the agricultural and pastoral associations of New Zealand have been bringing town and country together at their annual A & P shows. For townsfolk, these events are a chance to reconnect with a pioneering rural past that for most of us is now a distant memory. For country people, the shows are an opportunity to display their skills at everything from cattle breeding to cake baking, wood-chopping to wool spinning. A & P shows (there were 108 last year) are held in towns, but the atmosphere is always country. In the bar at the 1992 Royal Show in Christchurch, the decor was wool bale brands from the great sheep stations of the South Island. At the Christchurch show, the beef was beefy, and so were the breeders. Te Anau farmer Paul Wright leads Silver Stream Democrat, his prize-winning Charolais bull, in the grand parade.

Science & Environment

Feasting on fungi

Beyond the greengrocer's shelves lies a galaxy of wild mushrooms to thrill the taste-buds of the discerning collector. But spotting the safe varieties is a fine art, and indiscriminate gatherers risk indigestion... or worse. Stephen Brightwell, a relative of the first commercial mushroom growers in New Zealand, separates the dainties from the deadlies, and delves into the history of mushroom collecting in this country.


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