The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown has left tītī hunters only three weeks to hunt this deep-south delicacy.
The hunting trip is very expensive and some hunters are reconsidering whether the trip is economically viable. However, the people of Ngāti Ruahikihiki in Muruhiku are committed to the hunt.
Hurae White affiliates to the Ngāti Ruahikihiki hapū who have a long tradition of hunting tītī (muttonbirds).
He says his whānau are going ahead with the hunt at Level 2 and plan to send a small contingent.
“The day before yesterday, I understand that a small group from our family travelled across and are there now.”
Muttonbird hunting is a very costly exercise and the overall cost is estimated to be between $15,000 to $17,000.
“My family was worried when the lockdown was at Level 4 because they'd already prepaid for air and water transport to do the hunt but now the restriction has changed,” White says.
Although time has elapsed, they are not wasting the time they have left.
“The perfect time to hunt is April 25. The chicks start coming out at night to test their flight skills and embark on the world. So now is the perfect time to source tītī," he says.
White has one message for tītī lovers across the country.
“So everyone out there, if you hear of anyone selling tītī buckets, don't wait and buy now. The price is likely to be higher than usual but expected in these times.”