Māori Name: hapuku
Name Scientific: Polyprion oxygeneios
Availability: October to May
Attributes Weight: 6kg average, up to 20kg
Attributes Length: 80–100cm, reaching 150cm
Dark blue-grey or grey-brown body above and white below with small scales. The body is robust with a pointed head, protruding lower jaw, and a prominent ridge on the gill cover. Smaller fish are a more distinctive blue. Groper are also known as Hapuku.
They are found around New Zealand and the Chatham Islands and on the Chatham Rise. Some inhabit reefs a few metres below the surface, others live at depths of up to 400 metres. Hapuku rarely swim alone and are sometimes found in schools of 30 or more. They migrate but are believed to return to the same caves and rocky clefts for the winter spawning season.
Dark blue-grey or grey-brown body above and white below with small scales. The body is robust with a pointed head, protruding lower jaw, and a prominent ridge on the gill cover. Smaller fish are a more distinctive blue.
Hapuku are also known as Groper. Hapuku belong to the Percichthyidae family (temperate basses).
Spawning occurs during the winter, often earlier in the north, but the actual spawning grounds are not known. It is thought that after spawning they may then return to the same location. Hapuku are thought to be slow growing and can live to be at least 60 years old.
The groper (or hapuku) fishery includes <i>Polyprion oxygeneios</i> and <i>Polyprion americanus</i> (bass) in different proportions by region, depth, fishing method and season. Current research on groper is focussed on gaining a better understanding of the distribution of the two species and relative catches of each. This is being addressed by work to ensure separation of the catches in commerical catch returns. Genetic research on hapuku has indicated that the west coast South Island stock is distinct from the remainder of the New Zealand stock and may mix with the Australian stock. In recent decades, commercial catch rates have varied without a long term trend, but interpretation of these indices is complicated by the small scale fisheries and species mix involved.
Hapuku are caught around New Zealand most commonly over or near rocky areas to depths of 250 metres. In particular, they are caught off the east coast of the North Island, in Cook Strait, off Kaikoura, and off the west coast of the South Island. They are caught year-round, peaking during the mid-winter spawning season.
Did You Know
Groper are thought to be long-term residents of their particular rocky areas.
Groper flesh is firm and white with few bones. Treat your groper with care to preserve its delicate flavour and succulence – allow it to be the star of your dish, rather than any accompanying sauce. Groper makes wonderful steaks, remains moist with heavy flakes when cooked and smokes well. Bake; steam; panfry, poach, bbq; or smoke groper.
When buying groper/hapuku, always check the... EYES: Bright and clear cornea, shiny black pupil GILLS: Rosy pink pastel coloured gills SKIN: Bright, with a luminous sheen When buying groper/hapuku fillets, always check the... FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.