Māori Name: kehe
Name Scientific: Merluccius australis
Availability: May to September
Attributes Weight: 2–9kg, up to 14kg
Attributes Length: 70–100cm
Most hakes are identified by their geographic origin. The New Zealand Hake is found around the South Island, Chatham Rise, and Campbell Plateau at depths between 200 and 800 metres.
Dark silver-grey body above shading to white below. The body is slender and round with a wide head, large eyes, and large mouth with teeth turned inwards. The second dorsal and anal fins are long and often damaged during trawl capture. The tail is square.
This species of hake of the Merlucciidae family (hakes) is restricted to New Zealand, but there are more than a dozen hake and whiting species that inhabit temperate and cold waters in the northern and southern hemispheres.
Hake have a maximum age of at least 25 years and reach sexual maturity between six and ten years. The main spawning areas are the west coast of the South Island (June to October), the Campbell Plateau (September to February), and west of the Chathams (September to January).
In 2004 New Zealand Hake gained Marine Stewardship Council certification – the global gold standard for sustainability. Hake was introduced into the Quota Management System in 1986. There are three hake stocks recognised, with spawning areas off the west coast of the South Island, on the Chatham Rise, and on the Campbell Plateau respectively. Abundance of the sub-Antarctic stock is assessed as having experienced a significant increase in the mid-1980s followed by a subsequent decrease; stock levels have levelled off in recent years above the target abundance level. All hake stocks are currently assessed to be above or well above their management targets and overfishing is very unlikely to be occurring in any area.
Hake are caught mainly by trawling.
Did You Know
Hake, like its relative hoki, is particularly suitable for making fast-food products like fish fingers.
Hake flesh is moist and white with few bones and a soft, delicate texture. Marinate; poach; bake; curry; or use in a casserole; soup/chowder.
When buying whole hake, always check the... EYES: Bright and clear cornea, shiny black pupil GILLS: Rosy pink pastel coloured gills SKIN: Bright, silver with a luminous sheen When buying hake fillets, always check the... FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.