Traditionally Maori harvested kina in spring and summer when the pohutukawa blooms – mainly October through to February, and it is suggested low tide immediately after the full moon is when kina are at their best.
Holding them flat in one well-gloved hand and cracking them firmly across the middle with a sturdy, but not necessarily very sharp knife is a good way to open kina. This breaks the shell and allows it to be parted in two, exposing the yellow or red roes. These are removed with a spoon and either eaten raw or stored for later use. Another method favoured by Maori is to place the whole kina in a sack and place it in a freshwater stream for several days. This removes much of the saltiness and strong flavour, the roes also swelling up after a couple of days. Once cracked open, these can be eaten ‘raw’, along with the remainder of contents for those with a strong stomach. Beware: too many kina roe can be a good cure for constipation.
For the fishers in the kina-eating household, the discarded shells and innards can be kept in the freezer and used as a berley, mixed with some fish oil, old bread and bran, the next time you head out on the water.