Home Australia Aboriginal community reclaims a stake in rising fortune of ‘kuti’

Aboriginal community reclaims a stake in rising fortune of ‘kuti’

Aboriginal community reclaims a stake in rising fortune of ‘kuti’

Excessive on the menu at silver-carrier restaurants, cockles, pipis or “kuti” — as they are identified in the Ngarrindjeri language of South Australia’s south coast — are in demand.

Key points:

  • Aboriginal folks have been harvesting cockles for tens of thousands of years near the Murray Mouth
  • They have started a business called Kuti Co, after the Ngarrindjeri notice for the mollusc
  • A kiosk at Goolwa Beach has been transformed into the Kuti Shack

Harvested for tens of thousands of years from the state’s beaches, kuti has lengthy been a staple fodder for local Aboriginal families.

Early Newspaper

In extra present years, the mollusc has been commercially harvested for human consumption and as a high quality bait — a task the Ngarrindjeri community have been largely omitted of, except now.

Kuti Co is a purely Ngarrindjeri-race company, started with the assist of $5 million over four years from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation.

Kuti Co chief executive and Ngarrindjeri leader Derek Walker said kuti had an important connection with local Aboriginal folks’s history and tradition — and now business.

A drone photo of a beach with a four-wheel drive and people on it

The 110-kilometre stretch of beach on the Younghusband Peninsula is the main commercial fishery for cockles in South Australia.(

ABC Information


Diving into meaningful employment

Kuti are learned on the shoreline of the isolated and narrow Younghusband Peninsula, situated over the rolling sandhills of South Australia’s Coorong, south of the Murray Mouth.

“We search for the ripples in the water, so the cockles make the ripples on the sand and you moral search for that,” Kuti Co team leader Clinton Walker said.

For hours at a time, the crew shuffles in the shallows, seeing and feeling for the kuti buried deep in the sand.

Machine harvesting is an risk, but Mr Walker and the Kuti Co team said the raking approach was extra sustainable.

“You can’t beat it — moral going out on the beach, working,” he said.

“Generally it will get frigid; [it] relies if we’re doing an afternoon tide that goes on during the evening.”

Men with hi-vis outfits on use nets to pull shells from a beach

Clinton Walker and a crew of males drag in the shallows of the Younghusband Peninsula, netting kuti.(

ABC Information: Brittany Evins


Kuti Co is providing meaningful employment working on country for six local Ngarrindjeri males.

“A hundred years later, here we are, you understand, fishing on our country, which has obtained to be fair, would no longer it?” Derek Walker said.

After a lengthy day of harvesting, kuti are graded and purged in seawater in a single day at Goolwa PipiCo.

Kuti Co has change into a major shareholder in Goolwa PipiCo, where it is far hoped another 20 Ngarrindjeri folks may find employment. 

“It be far extra than moral a commercial arrangement we have with them; or no longer it is about getting folks back on country,” Goolwa PipiCo chief executive Tom Robinson said.

“It be moral such an important thing for the community to examine folks back harvesting pipis that they have been harvesting, or kuti as they call them.”

Kuti of a silver-carrier quality

What was a easy kiosk selling ice creams and scorching chips has change into a cafe called the Kuti Shack at Goolwa Beach, where amateur shufflers search for cockles.  

Educating the community is an important part of the business, where kuti are on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A woman and a man stand in front of a cafe with a mural on a wall

Kuti Shack co-owners and local cooks Vanessa Button and Brendan Roach.(

ABC Information: Brittany Evins


The cafe has change into a space for locals and vacationers to arrive back and share language and tradition.

“And we can say ‘or no longer it is pipis or cockles, but that’s what the locals call it and they have been harvesting and eating it for thousands of years’.

“And, you understand, that makes folks think and or no longer it is really important.”

Ms Button said kuti was a hit with locals and vacationers but there was peaceful a lingering stigma around the molluscs.

“Some folks you have to really convince; they think or no longer it is a bait product — you understand, ‘that’s the cockle and or no longer it is bait’ — and then as soon as they eat it, or no longer it is far rarely, or no longer it is succulent and it tastes love the ocean,” she said.

“It be aesthetic.

“It be no longer hard to convince folks and they arrive back, or they assume some to take dwelling and cook.”

Aboriginal community reclaims a stake in rising fortune of ‘kuti’