Kiwi Gardener



Ida Vaughan, Kaikōura

Circa 1950–1960

In the 1950s, Warren’s mum, Ida Vaughan, was a home economics teacher at Kaikōura High School. Warren can vividly recall how, when he was eight years old and the family had not long moved to the coastal settlement from Christchur­ch, his mum took him down to the Kaikōura wharf on a weekend to fish. On the wharf he observed large trolleys stacked with wooden crates, filled with tailless crayfish bodies.

Warren recalls, “The fishermen would offload their catch into the nearby fish factory where the tails were removed, frozen and packed, ready for exporting to America. The remaining carcasses were put into crates and moved onto the wharf so local farmers could truck the carcasses back to their farms to till into their soil, as a high-calcium fertiliser.”

He explains how families fishing on the wharf would often take a couple of crayfish carcasses from the crates for a feed of legs and mustard.

I was fascinated to hear Warren’s childhood recollecti­ons, especially knowing how valued sea-sourced fertiliser is for environmen­tally aware farmers and how expensive it is for most ordinary New Zealanders to access a feed of crayfish today. Warren is first to agree that those days, living in a small coastal settlement, were some of the best times of his childhood.

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