Whitebaiters Never Lie – Exploring an iconic Kiwi culture – Peters & Hedwig

Whitebaiters Never Lie – Exploring an iconic Kiwi culture.
Whitebaiters Never Lie – Exploring an iconic Kiwi culture.

Whitebaiters Never Lie – Exploring an iconic Kiwi culture

by Anita Peters and Murray Hedwig – Forward by Keri Hulme

First published in 2009 by David Bateman Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand. ISBN 978-1-86953-749-4. Size: 213 x 286mm. 148 pages in full colour. Hardcover with dust jacket. Now out of print but you might find a copy on Trademe.co.nz

Whitebaiters are a special breed, born with a certain something that compels them to endure incredible discomfort, often sitting on wet riverbanks in the howling wintry wind and driving sleet, all for the thrill of catching the tiny, elusive whitebait. But, as the images in “Whitebaiters Never Lie” attest, that’s not all there is to whitebaiting.

Here you will find the people, young, old and in between, who fiercely protect their ‘pozzies’ from all-comers, and who have a notorious reputation for fudging the truth about baiting, especially when it comes to revealing the size of their catch. Here also are the many styles of nets and fishing techniques, as varied as the locations they fish in; and the cribs, shacks and shelters of every shape and size; and even a
dozen or so ways to cook the bait.

Most of all, there is the whitebait and the amazing diversity of rivers, streams and creeks across the country where they are caught – from the remotest part of the West Coast of the South Island, accessible only by plane, to a wharf in the heart of urban Auckland.

The ‘Whitebaiters Never Lie’ project was initiated in 2006 by photographers Anita Peters and Murray Hedwig with the aim of capturing the essence of the whitebait season over a three-year period. Hindered at times by poor weather and sometimes just no whitebait at all, the challenges were many, but the result is a comprehensive, visually stunning documentation of this iconic Kiwi culture.

Endorsed by a foreword from renowned whitebaiter Keri Hulme, this book is a revelation of something that is uniquely New Zealand’s own. Front cover: Scoopers, Mokihinui River, West Coast.

Anita Peters was born in Christchurch and educated in Nelson before gaining a Diploma of Fine Arts (Hons) from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University. Her many projects have included travel photography, with a focus on working with people of unique occupations and lifestyles, as well as festivals, protests and other events involving the environment. Anita is also an accomplished fibre artist with a Diploma in Applied Design for Fabric from AUT Auckland and
a Diploma in Art and Design in Costume Design from NMIT Nelson. She currently lives in Auckland.

Murray Hedwig was also born in Christchurch and educated in Nelson. He has a Diploma of Fine Arts (Hons) from Ilam School of Fine Arts Canterbury and a Diploma of Teaching (Distinction) from Christchurch College of Education. He tutored in design and photography at Christchurch Polytechnic from 1978-2005.
Since then he has worked as an artist and professional photographer, exhibiting widely with several works being held in permanent collections. Murray feels that this project has linked the skills from his early passion for documentary film-making with his current exploration of the New Zealand landscape. He lives in Christchurch.


Book Review.

Whitebaiters Never Lie – Exploring an iconic Kiwi culture by Anita Peters and Murray Hedwig – Forward by Keri Hulme.

This wonderful book contains a staggering 466 beautiful colour photographs that capture the very essence of whitebaiting in New Zealand. We are taken on a lavishly illustrated picture journey leading us up and down the coasts of both the North and South Islands where we meet up with real Kiwi men and woman who have been bitten by the whitebaiting bug.

You’ll like the hilarious forward by Keri Hulme – a bit of  Kiwi icon herself. Keri includes some good tips if you are just getting into whitebaiting craziness. There is a brief history of whitebaiting in New Zealand near the beginning of the book to set the scene. At the tail end, you’ll find 13 excellent recipes for cooking up the wriggly little buggars, including a couple of proper whitebait fritter recipes – here’s a hint; there is no flour used at all. Finally, right at the end, is a list (index) of Baiter lingo so you’ll know the right stuff to say down at the river and thereby avoid appearing like a total twit!

“Whitebaiters Never Lie” would have been an enormous amount of work to put together. There has been no stone unturned or expense spared in creating this extraordinary volume. In a practical sense, you can pick up a huge number of tips and ideas to improve your own whitebait catch rate by carefully studying the hundreds of clear, sharp colour photographs contained within its pages. Do I recommend you get a copy of “Whitebaiters Never Lie”? hell yes!     Allan Burgess – editor of Fishingmag.co.nz