How accurate are Māori fishing calendars?

06 October 2011

When considering whether it’s a good day to fish, many fishermen rely on fishing calendars to help them decide whether it’s a good day to get out on the water. Māori fishing calendars are based on Māori lore and influenced by the moon. However, not much research has been done on the reliability of these calendars.

Ben Stevenson, supervised by Associate Professor Russell Millar from the Department of Statistics, The University of Auckland, decided to put one of the most popular fishing calendars published in the New Zealand Herald, by fishing guide Bill Hohepa, to the test.

Ben used data from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the Ministry of Fisheries, on snapper caught by rod or handline from boats, and analysed them using statistical models.

Ben found “relationships between fishing success and both the lunar cycle and the fishing-calendar rankings, but they were fairly weak. In fact, we found that with the Māori fishing calendar, the days rated “fair” seemed to outperform those ranked “good”.”