A team of four from Whanganui have been crowned New Zealand's best.

The Last Kina Karvers were crowned champions of the Kina Eating Competition at the Whakatane Seafood Festival.

Jay Rerekura, Titarakaahu Hika, Chrystal Hika and Marilyn Tamakehu ventured up Whakatane for one sole reason - eating free kina.

"We didn't know anything about the comp until we got up there. All we knew is we love kina. We're going up there to eat free kina," Rerekura said.


He heard about the competition last August. "Basically we had to submit a video and they selected five teams."

The competition worked like a relay; once one person had finished, the next person could go, and the team that finished there bucket first would be crowned the winners.

Each team had to feature a "virgin", someone who hadn't eaten kina before.

That was Chrystal Hika, who said she wasn't the biggest fan of the food but that wouldn't stop her.

"I wouldn't say its my cup of tea... but we weren't gonna lose the competition."

Titarakaahu Hika added, "It's one of those things that you love or you don't, there is no in between".

Seafood, particularly kina, is revered by Titarakaahu Hika and Rerekura.

"Its in our bloodline. My dad was a diver, I dive all the time for them," Rerekura said.


Rerekura and Hika were raring to go for the competition, so much so they warmed up appropriately.

"We had already eaten a bucket each before hand."

The team admitted they weren't serious heading into the competition, but shortly realised they were in for a shot to win.

The team finished 10 kina each in approximately "six to eight minutes" according to Titarakaahu Hika and were crowned champions.

"It honestly wasn't alot of kina, it was difficult to eat them quickly. Especially when you are trying to enjoy them, because they were good quality kina."

Rerekura enjoyed the food so much, they had an extra bucket and the leftovers of the remaining teams.

"When else am I going to get free kina?"

Rerekura was frank in victory.

"In hindsight, [the others] didn't have a s**tshow."