Hopes are high for a bountiful season from Nelson's fishing fleet, blessed yesterday by the city's senior clergy and Nelson kaumatua archdeacon Andy Joseph in a biting south-westerly wind.
Several hundred people gathered on the Nelson waterfront for the ceremony, now in its fifteenth year.
It has become an important fixture on the city's winter calendar but is more than a moment of looking forward; Bishop of Nelson Richard Ellena said it was also a time for reflection on what had been, as he recounted the loss of two young fisherman.
He spoke about the tragedy of lives lost at sea, and the impact on families and loved ones.
Bishop Ellena said 20 years ago he took a memorial service for the skipper and crew of a Talley's boat that went down north west of the South Island.
"It was my first encounter with the reality faced by every single boat that heads out to sea. Standing beside the wife of the skipper from d'Urville Island, I saw the pain she experienced of never seeing her man again.
"That's the human face of what we do now."
Fishing is a mainstay industry for Nelson, with the hoki season right now in its busiest period. The city is home to New Zealand's two largest fish processing companies Sealord and Talley's, and is the largest fishing port in Australasia.
Mike Smith, a founder of the blessing ceremony, said it served as a celebration of this.
"A lot of people don't realise how important the fishing fleet is to Nelson - it's Nelson's biggest employer, it's Australasia's biggest fishing port by far, therefore, and an event like this which is ceremonial, and a deeply moving one especially for those who've lost people at sea - I think it's great."
He said the place on the Nelson waterfront where the blessing took place was now also a shrine to those lost at sea.
"We started by building this memorial here (Nelson's Sunderland Pier) in 1997.
"1996 was a bad year when 23 fishermen were lost and we decided we could build a pier where next of kin could at least go to because they don't have a grave. The vessel is their tomb," Mr Smith said.
Event host Kent Robertson said the blessing provided a place for many to gather, and remember those lost to the sea.
"It's also about offering warmth and comfort to families, to share in their grief and loss. Some families have never had a body for them to bury," he said.
The community event is also a showcase of Nelson's strong nautical ties, with fish and chips sold from a marquee, city brass and choral singing.
It is also a time for the wives and families to be recognised, such as Sue Sweeny who lost her husband three years ago in an accident at sea.
"I'm here for the wives and families of the fishermen who didn't come back to them," she said.
"We were lucky enough to get my husband home but there's a lot of families who haven't got their men home and those children have grown up without their dads, their brothers and their granddads. It's really important we have something like this every year."
Archdeacon Joseph's wai-ata held the crowd spellbound as Mrs Sweeny did the annual honour of throwing a wreath into the sea.