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While most of us are still tucked up in bed, across town in the heart of Mount Wellington, there is a hive of activity. The Moana team has been up since 4.00am, ready to collect the freshest catch delivered overnight and to carefully hand process it for the first delivery of the day, to Farro. We’re first in line, along with some of Auckland’s top restaurants and fish and chip shops!

One of the most striking things you notice when you walk into the Moana New Zealand building is that it doesn’t smell fishy at all. That’s because fresh fish doesn’t smell. The catch has generally come off the fishing boats within 12 hours by the time it arrives at Moana, but even better, it is then delivered that same day to us. Moana started working with Farro in 2012 as a key supplier of our fish and some other seafood products. It has been a partnership from day one and after five years together, Moana likes to think of Farro as “part of the whanau,” says Carl Mikkelsen, Moanas New Zealand domestic manager for the company.

A delicate process

The team at Moana process every fish with care, by hand. Anyone who’s caught, scaled and filleted a fish of their own will know that it’s a skill needing a lot of practice. The larger fish are scaled and masterfully cut by Toutái, who has been working with Moana for 20 years.

Mary is one of a team of expert filleters and she makes it look easy. It’s a very delicate process of hand cutting, but Mary and the team do it with fine efficiency. The process of getting a fish out of ice, then scaling, cutting, skinning and hand-filleting it, takes less than 15 minutes. At the end of that process, the finely cut fillets are carefully packaged then back on ice. This ensures the freshness and integrity of the fish is maintained. Nothing goes to waste. All the by products, including the roe, skin and bones, are sold at the markets for stock. You won’t find a quicker turnaround from boat to store anywhere else in New Zealand. It’s prepared fresh and packed ready to dispatch to Farro stores as the FIRST delivery each day at 6.30am. Farro orders to daily demand to get the best from the fish, to minimise waste and to ensure we’re only selling the freshest fish; it’s only in the seafood cabinet for a day or two (the absolute maximum is a three-day shelf life).


Moana work with 70 vessels around the county that are all independently owned boats under full contract to supply to Moana. Many of the crews have been fishers for generations and have inherited their boats from family.

Each fillet has full traceability back to the boat and location where it was caught, thanks to GPS technology. Traceability ensures that quotas are strictly followed and that any catch can be traced right back through the supply chain, so you can find out exactly how it was caught too.

The fishers also have responsible fishers training, which looks at quality and handling of the fish and socially responsible practices. All of the fishers also have seabird safe training.


Moana has been leading the charge on cleaning up the industry. It is working with the government to trial a new technology called Tiaki – or Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) – which is a probably as close to free-range fishing as you might get. To put it simply, rather than being caught on lines with hooks, the fish are led into a catch tube, which is more efficient in attracting the right species, with holes for the smaller fish to escape. It brings the fish up in pristine condition, and often still alive, meaning non-target species can be returned to the sea unharmed.


They also have a partnership with WWF, working to protect the Māui dolphin. This is ‘over and above’ anything currently underway in the industry. It includes removing conventional trawling within the 100m depth contour by 2022 and no longer leasing catching rights to set netters within the same contour, north of New Plymouth, from 2017.


They have also partnered with Sandford to commit to funding Māui-safe fishing research. All of this combined means we can have the freshest caught and prepared fish in Auckland for you each day. We take our hats off to the team at Moana – the fishers, filleters and everyone in the supply chain. Thanks to their early starts and expertise, we can enjoy the freshest, most sustainably caught seafood that New Zealand has to offer.

Meet the Moana team

Nathan – Quota & Resource Manager

I manage the Moana quota portfolio in a sustainable manner and represent Moana’s interests in an advocacy role. Over the past 11 years working here, I have appreciated how we follow tikanga (Maori protocol) – where we practice Manakitanga and look after our people and try to be hospitable to our guests.

Debra – Food Service Manager

I work with Farro and restaurants, on training and customer service. We are selling the highest quality product, which I’m very passionate about. If there is ever a question over a certain fish, we can track the exact location, time and name of the boat where the fish was caught so that the issue can be solved.

Toutái – Knifing area supervisor

I supervise the kniving area which has 20 staff working at once. We fillet 3 fish in one minute by hand so it’s fast enough to keep fresh! Over the 20 years that I’ve worked here, I’m always very happy to be at every shift. Every two hours we all do group stretching exercises so that our hands don’t cramp with all the filleting!

Mary- Knife Hand

My role is to remove the bones from the filleted fish so that it’s ready to be packed. I’ve been here since 1994. I love my job, and I love Moana.

Sam Hayes, Owner and fisher
Vessel: Jay Debra
Location: Whangarei

Sam grew up around Ocean Beach in Whangarei. His mother was pregnant with him while she helped her husband on their commercial vessel. Sam and his brothers (who are also Moana fishers) have always lived by the coast, and grew up sailing, fishing and diving. They have an inherent connection with the sea, and show utmost care and respect for the ocean and the fish they catch.

How long have you been fishing commercially?

About 15 years. I originally started as a deckhand with Dad but I’m now operating my own vessel. We’re a family business.

What do you love about the job?

The freedom and being out on the water.

What methods do you have in place to work towards more sustainable fishing?

We’re part of the Tiaki initiative, trialling PSH technology. I choose to fish in responsible areas. I often go further offshore, where I know there are no spawning grounds or juvenile fish. It’s up to us to take control of looking after our oceans and using the best technology to catch fish. This means we also get a fresh, premium product for our customers.

Do you still get to enjoy recreational fishing?

Absolutely. There’s nothing like being out on the water. Diving is also one my favourite hobbies. I just love being in, on or near the sea.