So Linda, our guide from Kea Tours who will feature frequently in various posts especially those in Grey Mouth (I know it’s spelled “Greymouth”, but my spell checker highlights it as an error, and so I’m just going with the two-word option), was telling us a story about someone who planted some crops only to find the next day that the Pukeko and the Weka (indigenous birds) had pulled out the seedlings.
Anyway, as we drove along, she would stop or slow down to show us Pukekos and Wekas.
On the first day, she brought us to Shantytown, where we took the steam train. The train stopped somewhere in the forest where the gold or lumber was extracted in the past. At that stop, there were some Wekas and we had a close up view of the birds.
The Weka was about the size of a small hen, and (to my Chinese eyes) looked perfect for the pot. Or the grill. Or the oven. Or battered and fried. Or steamed, with some garlic, onions and ginger. Or stewed with carrots, and lotus root.
BUT… apparently, Wekas are protected. That means, they can’t be hunted or eaten in NZ, except on Chatham Islands, where the Wekas are NOT indigenous. They had been introduced to the island by New Zealanders. On Chatham Island, Wekas were immigrants.
Yes, even New Zealanders who are the Very Nicest of People, have different standards for “immigrants”. Even birds. 🙂
In any case, I found out that it was not exactly true that one could not eat Weka except on Chatham Islands.
Josh, our “punter” on “Punting on Avon” shared that Weka were very tasty. And yes, he had eaten Weka.
Because, the only other way you could eat Weka (legally) in New Zealand was if you had Maori blood.
Josh was part Maori.
Unfortunately, I’m not.
Maybe, I thought, someone would open a chain of Fried Weka restaurants, like KFC.
Would Singaporeans try Weka, asked Josh.
Oh yes, I said. We’re mostly Chinese in Singapore, and the Chinese will eat anything that swim, walk, or fly.
Maoris share the same approach to food, said Josh.
I thought of visiting Chatham Islands to taste some Weka. Unfortunately, the only flights there are by Chatham Air and the best approach is to connect at Wellington. A return flight will cost about SGD 1100 or more from Wellington.
Getting to Wellington (from SG) will cost another $2500 or more.
$4000 to eat Weka?