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Te Tote (Salt)

Salt is in the seas all around Auckland and in our tinana (bodies) too. In small doses, it keeps us hauora (healthy) and lets our koiora moana (marine life) flourish. Without salt, we wouldn't have a catch of the day.

Bathing costume, gift of Mrs Beverley Golding.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Togged up to make a pōhutu (splash)

Beach life and a kaukau (swim) in the waitai (salty sea) are some of the things that make Auckland great. 

A dip in the moana (ocean) is the best fun you can have. But around 100 years ago, Aucklanders needed some convincing. So the Parnell Baths opened its tatau (doors), offering salt-water swimming without the pesky sand. Later, in the 1950s, you could see bathing beauties totitoti (parade) in togs like the ones shown below. Don't you just love the mermaids on horseback riding the waves.

A pinch of tote (salt) and look what happens

For centuries potters have used super-heated salt to create various effects.

The works pictured below from the Museum's collection are by ringa toi (artist) Denis O'Connor from Waiheke Island. Like all potters, he fires his creations in an umu tārei uku (kiln). But how does he get that special 'orange peel' effect on these oko (jars)? At just the right moment, he throws a handful of salt into the kiln and the wera (heat) does its magic.

Ceramic jars, Denis O'Connor, 1976; 1980; 1981.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

You should have seen the one that got away

For many Aucklanders nothing beats hī ika (fishing) in the Hauraki Gulf with family or hoa (mates).

The ika tino nui (whopper) pictured below was caught by 11-year-old Richard McLauchlan in the raumati (summer) of 1963. He well and truly out-fished his pāpā (dad) when he landed this 8kg tāmure (snapper) at Flat Rock off Kawau Island. Richard and his catch of the day even made the NZ Herald.

Snapper (Chrysophrys auratus, tāmure), caught 1963 by Richard McLauchlan.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Have you ever seen an albatross shed tears?

Surrounded only by wai tai (salt water), most birds would go thirsty.

But albatross don’t drink fresh water; they make it. First they take a gulp of seawater and then remove the tote (salt) using special glands in their upoko (head). The salt oozes from their nostrils, leaving nothing but fresh water. Comes in handy when you haere (travel) over 100,000 km every year.

These birds are regular manuhiri (visitors) to the Auckland region, so if you spot one, look for the salty 'tears' running down their ngutu (bills).

Albatross skull, collected on Karekare Beach, 2007.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. LB14835.

Bluebird chip packet, purchased 2015.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Packet of chips thanks

Salt gives extra flavour to your kai (food). 

Are you a budding rakahinong (entrepreneur)? Take an akoranga (lesson) from Les Saussey who started selling tāewa pakapaka (potato chips) at the Western Springs Speedway in Auckland back in 1955. The Bluebird brand was born and 60 years later it's still going pakari (strong). The factory has been based at Mt Eden, then Ōtara and is now at Wiri. Back in Les' day you could buy a packet of Bluebird chips for ninepence.


Cite this article

MacFarlane, Kirsten. Te Tote (Salt). Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 2 July 2015. Updated: 21 June 2016.
URL: www.aucklandmuseum.com/collections-research/collections/topics/te-tote-salt

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