Blue maomao (Scorpis aequipinnis) are found in shallow water off rocky coasts, more abundantly north of East Cape, but with stragglers reaching south to Cook Strait. They grow to 16 in. in length, and are bluish-violet in colour. Often they occur in shoals which, when near the surface, give the water a bright-blue coloration. Although of excellent flavour and much esteemed by private fishermen, they are seldom seen on the market. A similar fish, Scorpis violaceous, often occurs along with the blue maomao, but may be distinguished by its deeper body and duller colouring. Further investigations, however, may show that these two varieties belong to a single species. Both are commonly referred to as maomao. The blue maomao also occurs in Australia, where it is known as the hardbelly.
by Arthur William Baden Powell, Assistant Director, Auckland Institute and Museum.