Sunrise on the Hokianga

On the next episode, screening 30 September 2018 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:

Every morning when the tide is right, Hokianga flounder fisherman Craig Pinkney tows his dory to the Kohukohu Ferry wharf with an old Series Two Landover, exactly the way his father did for 50 years. 

The Pinkney family are stalwarts of Northland’s fishing industry, catching flounder and dogfish in the northern reaches of the Hokianga Harbour. Most of their catch was exported, but the Pinkneys always had enough left over to sell to locals.  

In recent years Craig has taken over the fishing from his parents. He fishes the same flounder beds as Betty and Malcolm Pinkney and still sells a portion of his catch to locals. 

“Mum and Dad carved out quite a reputation selling fresh fish to locals and we still try to give the people of our community the chance to buy fresh fish at a good price,” Craig says. 

He still uses the old dory fishing boats his father built to catch flounder in the waters around Kohukohu and Rawene. “We have to work with the tides,” he says. “And I can’t fish at a new or full moon, which means I go to work about 16 days a month.”

The nets are left in the water overnight, then pulled up in the morning tide the following day. “We have to be spot-on with our calls; getting stuck on the mud bank is no fun. Sometimes you can’t pull the boat off the mud and you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the next tide!” 

Heidi and Craig Pinkney

Craig and Heidi Pinkney were living in Australia with their young children Christopher and Isabella, when they decided it was time to come home. “You come back here and it’s like a time warp,” Craig says. “It never changes.”

“We just love it here and want our kids to experience what we had as kids, a sense of belonging and a sense of place.” 

They say it’s great to be part of a community that offers so much aroha and support to their family. Kohukohu has a strong community focus and Craig and Heidi, who is a trained teacher, are working with local schoolchildren to help them gain a better understanding of the harbour.  

“We go on beach clean ups with the children,” Heidi says. “It’s important they learn to protect the Hokianga Harbour and the land around it so it can survive for the next generation.”

Find out more about Kohukohu here.

Read more about Hokianga Harbour here.





Dan Henry


Camera & Aerial Photography

Peter Young 


Field Sound

Shaun Logan 


Editor & Colourist 

Mike Townsend


Post Production Manager

Bailey Palmer


Sound Mixer

Ian Leslie



Stephen Gallagher


Production Manager

Robyn Best



Vivienne Jeffs 


Network Executive

Vicki Keogh


Associate Producer

Dan Henry 



Kerryanne Evans



Julian O’Brien