Matt Paku is feeding his eels. Strictly speaking, they are not ‘his’ – they belong to the nation – but they live in a cool, clear stream that runs through his property.

Matt’s wife Marilyn runs the family fish and chip shop and Matt feeds the eels scraps and left-overs from the shop.

As Matt approaches the bridge over the stream with its adjacent concrete pad from which he feeds the creatures, there is not an eel to be seen, just the dark, flowing water. But within seconds of the first handful of scraps being thrown into the water, the eels appear – in their dozens – and within a minute there is a thrashing, writhing, lunging, mass of them – large, black creatures, some well over a metre in length, some very much smaller, but they all have a common goal: to get as much as they can of the tucker that Matt’s tossing into the water.

They slide over each other, many coming completely out of the water and onto the concrete pad on which Matt is standing.

The area of the stream in which the eels are feeding is like the inside of an agitator washing machine – the moment is frantic with writhing, thrashing action.

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