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No. 52 (September 1965)
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Recipes for
Preparing Kina
Or Sea Eggs

‘Ma wai te kai ka whanga ki tua o Tokararangi.’

‘Who will wait for the food beyond the breakers of Tokararangi.’

The meaning of this proverb is that sea foods require appropriate days and seasons, calm seas and fine weather.

Kina, which are more popularly known as sea-eggs, are a much loved summer food of the Maori, being found at low tide in rock crevices and under ledges of rock.

Harvested in Summer Months

When the kowhai is in bloom the kina tongues are yellow and full, but sour; when the pohutukawa is in bloom, they are red, full and sweet. Kina may be harvested during the months of October, November, December, January and February. The best times to harvest them are at low tide on the first, second and third days after the full moon.

There are two better known varieties: Kina ariki, a long-spiked variety, and Kina korako, a short-spiked variety.

A screwdriver with a long wooden handle, tied to the wrist with a piece of string, is the ideal implement to use in prising the kina from the crevices and rock ledges.

To Prepare Freshly Harvested Kina

Crack the shell open by piercing the centre or navel of the kina with a butcher's knife. Hold the kina steady with the left hand and press the knife down firmly with the right hand, at the same time levering the knife to the right then to the left. Since the shell is brittle, it should then open in two.

Inside you will find a cone-shaped mass of fine teethlike shell, a colourless salty fluid, Five tongues, a membranous substance purplish in colour, and a quantity of what appears to be fine particles of grit.

Use a teaspoon to scoop the tongues from the shell, being careful not to include the membrane or grit. Place the tongues in a jar, and discard the shells and remaining contents.

Half a sugarbag of average-sized kina will fill approximately a one quart jar.

Kina prepared as above is called kina poha and will keep in the refrigerator from three to four days. Kina poha may be eaten uncooked, and is often spread on slices of buttered bread.

Maoris in the early days used a large hollowed-out kina shell as a container for poha, and also sometimes cooked it in this container. They did this by placing the shell on the burning embers of an open fire, and leaving it until the contents were thoroughly heated through. The kinaki or complement to this dish was boiled or steamed kumara.

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Another Method

The following method of preparation is very popular. One must however acquire a taste for kina prepared in this way, for not only the tongues but the entire contents are eaten. As kina are usually harvested in kit or sugarbag lots, fortunate indeed is the town dweller who owns a large copper.

Pour the kina into the copper, completely cover with clean cold water, and leave to soak for two days. (Some prefer three days; the time of soaking differs according to taste.) The kina will have lost a lot of its saltiness and strong flavour after two days, and the tongues become plump and much sweeter.

For those who live in the country, the nearest creek is of course the answer. The kina are left in the bag and the neck of the bag is tied up with one end of a long rope. Then the bag is thrown into deep water, the other end of the rope is fastened to the nearest tree or post, and the bag and its contents are left submerged for two days.

After this time open the shells as instructed, and scoop out the contents with a spoon. No cooking is required. It is eaten with boiled kumara or buttered slices of homemade bread.

Kina Pie


cups prepared fresh kina tongues (poha)


cup breadcrumbs


rashers lean bacon

Place alternate layers of kina and breadcrumbs into a buttered pie dish, finishing with a layer of breadcrumbs. Cover with chopped bacon. Bake in a moderate oven 350' F. until the crumbs and bacon are crisp and the tongues cooked. About half an hour.

Kina Fritters


cup fresh kina tongues (poha)


ozs. flour


teaspoon baking powder




cup milk salt and pepper

Mix together the dry ingredients, add beaten egg and milk to make a smooth batter. Stir in the kina tongues and leave to stand for half an hour. Fry dessertspoonfuls in hot fat. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve hot, garnished with wedges of lemon and sprigs of parsley.