Forest Lore of the Maori
The Kereru or Wood Pigeon (Hemiphaga novae-zealandiae):
The Kereru or Wood Pigeon (Hemiphaga novae-zealandiae):
In the kereru, also known as kuku and kukupa, the Maori had a much less turbulent creature than Tumataika the kaka to deal with, and so we shall find some differences in the ways of taking them. Rupe seems to be a kind of honorific term for this fine bird; it is occasionally used by Maori folk, as when the pigeon is personified in certain myths, but not when speaking of the birds in any ordinary page 227 page 228 way; as an ordinary, commonly-used name for pigeons it is widely used in Polynesia. Maui-mua, brother of Hina, was also known as Rupe, and appears in the marvellous tale of the Moon-Maid and her sojourn in the land of Tinirau, the fish-lord. When Mauipotiki, the last-born of the five brothers, descended to the underworld in search of his parents, he assumed the form of a pigeon, and, as he had with him the apron and belt of his mother, both are now seen adorning the pigeon; the white breast of the pigeon represents the apron or kilt of Taranga, mother of the Maui brothers, which garment was composed of dogs' tails, while the dark plumage about the neck of the bird represents the belt of Taranga.
Occasionally a pigeon having very light-coloured plumage is observed, and of these I have seen a few, but never one that I would apply the term albino to. In some districts these abnormally light-coloured pigeons were styled ariki, possibly because they were believed to be flock-leaders. Waiapu folk stated that such birds are called karoro-tea by them, while those having plumage of a speckled appearance are termed karoro-tangiarau, and those of an unusually dark colour are karoro-uri; a flock of pigeons is a tipapa kereru or pokai kereru, the latter term is employed when a flock is in flight. These Ngati Porou folk also gave me toka a rnanu, an expression employed to denote a tree much frequented by gamebirds, also tarake manu as denoting an area of forest much frequented by birds. At Ruatahuna I was told that the term rakau tipapa was applied only to the toromiro tree, and to such as were resorted to by pigeons when feeding on its berries, the species being dioecious.
On the East Coast of the North Island a belief exists among the natives that pigeons reach the land from the ocean. In former times, when canoes frequently went out a considerable distance from land, manned by fishermen, pigeons would occasionally be seen flying in from seaward toward the land, and, in some cases, they would alight on the canoes apparently much exhausted, and would quietly allow the fishers to handle them. After such a rest they would continue their flight to land. These birds were in very poor condition, and invariably very hungry and thirsty. Tuta Nihoniho stated that he had seen pigeons so making landward off Tokomaru many years ago, and remarked: "Kaka have also been seen flying in from the ocean, but always high in the air; they were never seen flying low or known to settle on canoes."
I have two brief notes concerning which I am still doubtful, and these refer to a peculiar usage mentioned by Angas in his Savage Life, vol. 2, p. 16: "The delicate rose-coloured feet of this pigeon are used by the natives of the Southern Island to stain their page 229cheeks red." Another note is to the effect that girls rubbed the feet of pigeons on their cheeks and so transferred the colouring matter to their faces. May be; but after handling hundreds of our wood pigeons I cannot remember anything of this so-easily-transferable colouring-matter, though that colour is well described by Angas.
In former years, ere vermin were introduced by Europeans, and while the far-reaching forest held the land, pigeons were very numerous in our woods, but the early 'sixties of last century saw a rapid change take place, so far as the Wellington district was concerned, though the kakapo had gone long before 1860. This diminution in number was universal, though the time may have differed somewhat in different districts. Even since that time, at certain places, during certain seasons, the pigeon was seen in large flocks. Thus in the 'seventies I remember two years in which these birds were very numerous inland of Gisborne; one could see hundreds of birds circling about over the white-pine trees, as at Waihara, Waikohu, and the bush-areas up the Waipaoa, from Rangatira to Mangatu.
As to the methods employed in taking the pigeon, it may be said that the principal one was ordinary snaring, running-nooses set on trees or at water; to a less extent they were taken by spearing and the mutu style of snaring. The tari mode of snaring was employed but to a limited extent. We have seen that a certain dog caught nine pigeons in long past years and a lone land, but I never heard of another such case, or such dog; those pigeons must have been very much preoccupied. One other method, a truly startling one, is yet to be described, one known to a few enthusiasts as the Polack method; the Maori, I regret to say, had no special term for this method, neither, so far as I could ascertain, had he any knowledge of it. It was in this wise: In a work entitled New Zealand, a Narrative of Travels and Adventures by J. S. Polack, Esq. (London, 1838), we find at p. 304 of vol. 1 the following entertaining paragraph: "The pigeon, or kukupa, is caught by the fowler placing a leaf, similar to the spear-grass, between his lips, and whistling, imitates the peculiar note of the bird; which, attracted by the sound, gradually approaches nearer to the siffleur, hopping from twig to spray, till, resting close to him, it is gradually lulled asleep by the note; this is soon percieved, by the bird nestling its head under its wing: it is then easily killed, by a pointed stick of hard wood being thrown at it." I submit that this method, combined with the Semitic punctuation, throws a flood of light on the ingenuity of the Maori fowler, the fowler so sadly maligned by Commodore Wilkes. When the Maori acquired page 230firearms he occasionally used a musket wherewith to shoot a pigeon, and, as he insisted upon getting within a few yards of the bird ere firing, one can imagine what the bird looked like after a heavy musket ball had passed through it. E. J. Wakefield mentions such an occurrence witnessed by him in the Marlborough Sounds: "Our friend Charley borrowed one of the fowling-pieces to shoot a pigeon which was perched close to us. He would not fire until he had got the end of the gun six yards from it, and consequently blew it to pieces. He seemed proud, however, of his dexterity in having crept so close without disturbing the bird."
In olden days, when birds were very numerous, certain places were, as we have already seen, specially noted for the great number of birds taken each season. Thus we hear many such sayings as the following: Te Wai-iti umu tahu noa, Te Weraiti umu tahu noa. At the two places mentioned game is said to have been so plentiful that the steam ovens were never cold; this condition of things obtained only during the bird-taking season at the above mentioned places, inasmuch as, in that district, the people had neither fish, shellfish, nor cultivated food-products as food supplies. Another such saying: Waiho i Ohiwa, i te umu tahu noa, pertains to a place where sea-products were abundant and where crops were cultivated; at such a place forest-products were a secondary matter, yet food was plentiful and ovens steamed gaily.
An old time saying is: He kuku tangai nui, he kaka kai honihoni—a big-cropped pigeon, a nibbling parrot, is concerned with the manner of eating of these two birds, and the same remark may be made concerning the following: He kuku tangaengae nui, he par era apu paru, a big-cropped pigeon, a mud-gobbling duck.
Miro (Podocarpus ferrugineus), kahikatea (P. dacrydivides), matai (P. spicatus) and rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) are trees on which snares were set for birds. Pigeons were also taken when feeding on the berries of Cordyline australis and taraire. A pole was placed reaching from one panicle of Cordyline to another, and a horizontal tahu or suspension cord was arranged near it from which many snares depended; the birds would alight on the perch prior to moving onward to the berry bearing panicles, and so be ensnared. We shall see anon that pigeons were also taken by the tari method and by spearing, when feeding on these ti or 'cabbage trees.' They were speared on white pine (kahikatea) and maire (Olea), speared and snared (by the takei or taeke, and mutu methods) on miro trees, so that a fruitful miro tree could be termed a kaihua, a taumatua, or rakau taeke, and a tutu. A third name for a taumatua is rakau tahei. Many of the species that provide much food for birds are not found page 231growing in extensive stands, but are more or less scattered through mixed bush, such are the miro, maire, hinau, and rata, but the kahikatea is sometimes seen in dense stands of considerable extent, in some cases to the almost total exclusion of other species of forest trees.
In addition to the trees mentioned above the pigeon frequented the following species in order to feed on the fruits thereof: Houhou (Nothopanax arboreum), patate (Schefflera digitata), mako (Aristotelia racemosa), kareao ( Rhipogonum scandens), maire-taiki (Fusanus Cunninghamii), rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum), kohe (Dysoxylum spectabile), Coprosma spp., also, in late times that objectionable intruder the mihinare (sweetbriar).
The pigeon also ate certain leaves when better food was scarce, and when eating those of the kowhai (Sophora) their flesh was considered to be unpalatable. The tui and pigeon get fat on the berries of the maire uwha tree, and they were snared on it; pigeons swallow the fruit of the tawa and karaka trees, assimilate the pulpy covering and pass the seeds. The pigeon and tui were both taken on the mako and houhou when feeding thereon; pigeons become very poor in condition when feeding on leaves of the kowhai in July and August; leaves of the aka-kai-kuku were also eaten by this bird. This eating of leaves is not indulged in when berries are obtainable, and is evidently not so engrossing an occupation as is the consuming of berries, as witness the following saying: He manu kai kakano e mau, tena he manu kai rakau e kore e mau—which tells us that birds engaged in eating seeds or berries can be easily caught, whereas those eating leaves will not be caught because they are consuming unappetising food, and so will perceive approaching danger. When feeding on berries of the kohe tree pigeons are taken in very good condition; those of the miro and some other species have a similar effect, also, I am told, these birds fatten on sweetbriar berries, but I have not myself seen them feeding on them, though I have frequently seen horses carefully nibbling off those berries.
Natives have told me that the pigeon does not eat the berries of the black maire (Olea montana), but does appreciate those of maire-raunui (O. lanceolata, O. Cunninghamii). Those of the Patea district speak of a kind of cabbage-tree that they call ti manu, a tree that provided much food for pigeons, but it seems to be merely the common Cordyline australis, a species that sometimes grows to a large size, a many-branched tree that produces much seed. Pigeons commence to feed at sunrise, and after some hours they take a long siesta, commencing to feed again about three o'clock in the afternoon. When feeding on berries of the miro tree they become thirsty page 232and make for the nearest water. This led to the wai tuhi, wai taeke and waka methods of taking pigeons, of which more anon.
When fruiting trees chance to be below an eminence it is a common sight to see flocks of birds settle on trees standing on such hills, although such trees provide no kind of birdfood. From such a coign of vantage the birds will scan the trees below them ere they fly down to commence their feast; one sees them so leaving the foodless trees and, one by one, flying down to some fruitful tree below. This explains how it is that snares may be set to the advantage of the fowler on trees that furnish no form of bird-food. The Maori was ever keen to observe the habits of all creatures that formed part of his food-supply. The tawhero (Weinmannia), tawai (Nothofagus) and kowhai (Sophora) trees were not utilized as snaring-trees save in such cases as when they served as tauranga or temporary alighting-places for birds, as explained above. True it is that the pigeon feeds on leaves of the kowhai, but snares are not effective on that tree. This peculiarity we see again in the case of the tawa tree, the berries of which were eaten by pigeons, yet no snares were set thereon to take the birds, on account of the branchlets and foliage being too open for such snares to be effective. Again, in the case of the kohe, or kohekohe tree, no snares were set, inasmuch as the bait therefor, the berries, are not produced on the outer extremities of outer branchlets, but on branch-stems and even on the trunk in a scattered manner. On this tree birds would seldom settle on a snaring-perch; they perch in all kinds of odd places, on any part of a branch whereat berries are seen, hence they are scattered throughout the head or branches of the tree, not clustered round the outermost branchlets. Thus the dictum of our fowler is to the effect that the best trees on which to set snares are those on which foliage and fruit are massed at the extremities of the branches, as is seen in the case of the miro. These explanations I owe to several grey-beards of the Waiapu district, from whom I gathered some interesting data. They likewise told me that pigeons and tui eat the berries of the rohutu, a Myrtus, and the kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticata) on both of which they were snared. Also they were sometimes snared on Coprosma. As to the hinau tree (Elaeocarpus dentatus) they were not in the habit of setting snares on this species, although the pigeon ate the berries thereof (as also did the kaka and tui), because, when feeding on these berries, the birds become athirst, as when feeding on the miro, and so frequently hie them to the nearest water, whereat snares are set to better advantage, be that water a stream or a pool.page 233
During the snaring-season fowlers would go forth at dawn in order to visit their snares, to take away all snared birds and to reset the snares. Should birds be numerous and accommodating in the way of becoming ensnared, then the round of the snaring-trees would be made twice, possibly thrice, in the course of a day. When pigeons became fat in the winter season or late autumn fowlers would remark that they had become whaturua (Kua whaturua te kereru). A number of natives of divers tribes have told me that when pigeons are feeding on the leaves of the puruhi or manatu (Plagian-thus betulinus) and kowhai they become thin and the skin is covered with a kind of scurf.
The following names for snares and sundry appurtenances thereto have been collected:—
- Ahei—Snare spread between trees for birds [?] (Williams). Cf. Tahei-Hei.
- Ahere—A snare for birds, a running-noose.
- Hei—To snare by the neck (Williams). Cf. Tahei-Ahei.
- Whakahei—To ensnare. Cf. Tahei-Hei.
- Arorangi—Part of fittings of a waka kereru, cross supports on which the paepae rest.
- Hauhau—A rod used for striking birds down from a pae or taki. Syn. Whiu, Ta.
- Kaha, Kārawa*, Kārewa (Whanganui), Tāhū, Tāhuhu, Tarawa, Taiki, Tākeke (Tuhoe)—A taut cord secured horizontally wherefrom to suspend snares. In some cases a rod was used instead of a cord. Also Kaha= a running-noose snare.
- Kamu—A snare for hawks (Williams).
- Karu kiekie—A snare for pigeons [?] (Williams).
- Karu-mahanga—A snare (Williams).
- Koromahanga—A noose. 2. To make a snare or noose.
- Kete rauhuka—A wallet in which snares were carried by fowlers.
- Kopeti—Noose, loop of a bird snare.
- Kopiko=whapiko=tapiko—To make snares, to form the noose; also rapiko.
- Kōputa—A snare for taking parrakeet; (Williams), but another authority says 'a bird trap,' same as whakarapa.
- Kore—A trap, a snare (Williams).
- Whakakorekore—To prepare the loop of a noose for snaring (Williams).
- Mahanga—A snare. See Karu mahanga, Koromahanga, Manga.
- Manga—A snare for birds (Williams).
- Mutu, Syn. Tuke, Peke, Tekateka, Tumu—A snare-set perch for taking birds. See Pewa.
- Pae—A perch or rest. Pae manu, a bird-perch.
- Pae koko—A perch on which the koko (tui) bird was taken.page 234
- Paerangi—Rods secured horizontally to tree branches for birds to settle on; a perch; snares suspended from a tāhū cord just above perch. Syn. Tuhunga, Rongohua, Pae.
- Rongohua—A perch such as the foregoing. Syn. Tuhunga.
- Paepae—To arrange bird snares (Williams).
- Paerutu—Part of a bird-snare (Williams).
- Patatari—A snare, noose.
- Pawa—A form of bird-snare. Syn. Pewa.
- Pewa—A combined perch, snare and tia haere rod used in taking birds.
- Pehe, Pepe—A call-leaf as used by fowlers.
- Pihere—A snare. To ensnare.
- Rau huka—Strips of Cordyline leaves prepared for snare-making.
- Takaha—Strips of Cordyline leaves prepared for snare-making.
- Reti—A snare.
- Rore—A snare, a trap (Williams).
- Taeke—A snare, a running-noose.
- Tahei—A snare, a running-noose. To set snares.
- Tahere—To ensnare. A snare.
- Taki—The obliquely-set rod of a pae manu.
- Tarahaha, Tarahanga, Taraharatia, Titara kāhu—A hawk-trap or snare.
- Tarahanga seems to have been also applied to a snare used in taking pigeons, etc., as when snares were fastened to a rod that extended outside the foliage of a tree, but see No. 25 of the Addenda.
- Tari—Noose for taking birds, often used by means of a rod. To ensnare.
- Tataki—To arrange snares on a tahu.
- Taweke—To set snares for birds.
- Tohe—A running-noose.
- Whakatohe—To arrange a snare on a perch such as a mutu or pewa. Syn. whakakatohe.
- Torohere—A snare. To ensnare.
- Toromahanga—A snare. To ensnare.
- Tawhiti, Tupaki—A spring-snare for ground-birds.
- Tuhunga—Syn. Paerangi.
- Tūpā, Whana—The spring of a tawhiti. Syn. Whiti.
- Waikaha—A noose.
- Wai taeke, Wai tumu, Wai tahei—Streams whereat birds are snared.
- Wai poka taringa—Small pools of water in holes on logs, trees or rocks, whereat bird-snares were set. Sometimes called wai kuku.
- Waituhi—Same as above. Waka waituhi=waka kereru.
- Waka kereru—Troughs containing water whereon snares were set for pigeons.
- Whakawene—To secure snares to the tahu or takeke cord and arrange them.
Crozet, in his account of the sojourn of the Marion expedition in New Zealand, tells us that: "These savages know of no other method of capturing game than the net and the running noose; with these they catch quail, wild duck, a very large species of wood pigeon, and several other kinds of birds." Very little use was made of the net by the Maori fowler, but assuredly he made extensive page 235use of the running-noose, and of other methods, as we shall see anon.
The first method of taking the pigeon to be described is that known as tahei and taeke, in which snares consisting of running-nooses were used, these snares being set among the branches of trees or at streams, pools, etc., frequented by certain birds. The word tahei means to set snares for birds, as a noun a set of such snares on a tree. Hei itself means to snare by the neck, and ta is used to denote the process of setting snares on a tree. A tree on which snares are so set is called a rakau tahei, or rakau taeke, or taumatua, occasionally a toka a manu; any stream, pool, etc., at which birds are so snared is termed a wai tahei or wai taeke, and a few other names to be given later. The natives of Tahiti style a fowler tahei manu.
Bird-snares were made in thousands for the fowling-season, the material used being, in most cases, leaves of Cordyline australis, the stronger part of such leaf found between the midrib and the thinner and weaker outer part. As is well known to observant folk there seem to be two varieties of this 'cabbage-tree,' as it is termed, one, called tarariki, having narrow leaves, while the wharanui variety has leaves of greater width. So it is that you hear Waiapu natives speaking of kouka tarariki and kouka wharanui, and they maintain that the leaves of the former are much the best to use for snares, having stronger fibre. Again they aver that the leaves of young trees of tarariki are the best for the purpose, and are narrower than those of older trees. Our illustrations shew how the snares were made and secured to the horizontal rod or line. Cheeseman's Manual of the New Zealand Flora states that C. australis is 'variable in size and habit,' also that leaves of young plants are narrower than those of mature specimens. A concluding note states that 'Mr. Colenso's C. Sturmii has broader and thinner leaves and may be entitled to recognition as a variety. A lack of specimens left this matter undecided.
The long, narrow leaves of young plants, which are softer than the older leaves of mature trees, having been procured, a fire was then kindled, and, when burning briskly, was covered with green leaves of the kokomuka (Veronica), poroporo (Solanum), and kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) so as to cause a thick smoke. The Cordyline leaves were split into very narrow strips and hung up in this smoke, which blackened them and rendered them more durable. They were then hung up in a hut for a few days. Prior to being formed into snares, i.e., running-nooses, they were soaked in water for a time. The strips of Cordyline leaf were termed takaha at Waiapu, which seems to be equivalent to the Tuhoe name of rau huka. The snares page 236 page 237 were made of equal size, being measured by the hand, and the next process was to fasten them by the free end to the tāhū or suspension cord, when they were ready to be conveyed to the forest and set in position on trees or at the water-side. As such snare-fixing was being performed, should any birds be caught in the snares first set they were not taken therefrom, but left hanging until all the snares were set, whereupon a return was made to those first set and the first bird caught was set aside as an offering to the gods. It might be merely thrown away, or it might be cooked and handed over to a wahine kauaemua to be eaten by her, that is by a woman of the elder branch of a leading family. If when the woman was consuming this bird, she chanced to eructate, then some misfortune was at hand. If no such omen occurred, the folk would say: E! he whiti ora for the outlook was a good one. This ceremonial performance rendered the forest common, or clean of tapu, to some extent, and then women were free to enter it and engage in fowling or other pursuits. After this it was also permissible for fowlers to partake of food within the forest. This account of snare-making was given by Waiapu natives; other such explanations obtained from divers tribes differed little save in the names of material and appliances.
Advantages of the above leaves as material for snares were durability and the fact that the loops of such snares retained the necessary rigidity that caused them to keep their form, to remain open; leaves of Phormium are much less satisfactory with regard to these qualities. In one of our works on the Maori it is stated that he fashioned bird-snares from 'the delicate epidermis of the stem of the mouku (Asplenium bubiferum).' This is quite impossible; the adjective employed well describes the stem of this fern, including its epidermis; it is soft and fragile, contains no fibre, and could not possibly be used for the purpose. Evidently a native informant had mentioned mauku as the material used, and mauku, of which mouku is a variant form, is a name for Cordyline pumilio, as well as for the Asplenium above mentioned; certainly it must have been the fibrous leaf of C. pumilio that was referred to.
Fowlers of the Matatua tribes procuring leaves of C. australis for snare making would refer to them as rau ti (Cordyline leaves), but when the narrow strips thereof to be formed into snares had been steeped in water for a day. and so were ready to be used, they were called rau huka. At the opening of the fowling-season a peculiar rite known as taitai and ahi taitai was performed in order to take the tapu off the forest, and to bring good luck to the fowlers. For the proper performance of this ceremony a tapu fire was generated by friction, being known as the ahi taitai, or taitai-fire. One of the page 238acts of the expert or tohunga was to chant the formula termed a tiepa, which, we are told, causes birds to come from afar and assemble in the forest where the taitai-rite is performed. At the same time some of the newly prepared rau huka were cast into the ceremonial fire; the rau huka or strips so used would be the first ones made, and they would be made, not by any ordinary fowler, but by the priestly expert himself, he who performed the ceremony. In some cases some of the first-made rau huka might be used as a mauri for the forest, a matter already explained. When the strips of fibrous leaf were taken from the water they were sometimes placed in the black mud of a swamp for a while, in order that they might be stained a dark colour, and so appear old and more in harmony with surrounding objects when placed in position on trees or elsewhere. Some woodsmen hung the strips in the smoke of a fire, the fuel for which would probably be mapara, the resinous heart-wood of white pine, the smoke from which soon blackened them. When so stained they were formed into snares and secured by the free ends to the kaha or cords, from which they hung down in such manner that they overlapped each other as seen in the illustrations (see Figs. 11, 12). I was told that the burning of the rau huka in the ceremonial fire was an act that ensured good luck to the fowlers, which seems to shew that they were viewed as a form of whakaepa or propitiatory offering. Also a form of charm termed a karakia rau huka was repeated over the snare-material, and this would serve a similar purpose, the ensuring of good luck. The preparing of these appliances in the whare mata occupied some time, and while so employed the fowlers and the house were under tapu, and the former would not return to their huts and families until the task was completed. The first few birds caught would be cooked in a steam oven called the hapi rau huka and eaten by the officiating expert, or experts. By means of these ceremonial performances, the tapu was lifted from the whare mata, its inmates, the forest and the proceedings. Here it is necessary to state that, in such proceedings as these, it must be understood that it was the excess of tapu that was so lifted, it was not entirely removed by such ceremonial.
Of pigeon-snaring in the far north, Mr. Matthews writes: "When pigeons are noosed, the method usually followed is as under: The top branches of trees frequented by the birds are lopped or broken off, and straight rods of manuka tied across in several directions. To these the nooses were fastened. Great numbers of pigeons were caught in this manner. Nooses were also placed on the margin of a forest creek where pigeons were in the habit of drinking. Sometimes a trough, hollowed out of a log 6 ft. to 8 ft. long, and filled with page 239water, was put in a suitable place, and nooses tied over and around it …. We saw a line stretched tightly along the edge of the water [of the Manga-muka stream], which was covered from end to end with an immense number of nooses. On enquiry we were told it was a taiki for catching pigeons. The birds, it was said, were always very thirsty when feeding on miro berries. We also noticed a taraire tree near the river which had had its upper branches removed, and nooses so placed that a pigeon could hardly settle on it without being caught." It has been already stated that the name of taiki is applied, not to the actual snares, but to the cord to which they were attached. Ngati-Porou call it a tahu. The Matatua names are kaha and tākeke, at Whanganui it is a karewa. The lopping of the top branches of a tree alluded to above was by no means a universal practice.
Here follows a longer and better account of the above-described manipulation of snares, as given by an old man of Ngati-Porou of the Waiapu district:—
In setting snares on trees, they were arranged as near to the ends of the branches as possible, for there are the berries which attract the birds. A cord or line of flax (Phormium) was tied to a branch by one end, stretched taut, and the other end secured to another branch. To this cord, or tahu as it was termed, the snares were attached. The cord was so arranged as to be stretched eight or nine inches above a branch, or a rod lashed in a horizontal position to branches to serve as a pae or perch for birds. A rod so used was termed a paerangi. In some cases short upright pieces were tied to branches to lash the paerangi to, and these were termed turuturu, a name applied to any stick used for any similar purpose and in an upright position. Unless the tahu, or line to which the snares were secured, was a short one, supplementary supports, termed turuturu paerangi, were tied to the perch in an upright position, and to these the tahu was fastened. Thus the latter was kept taut and well braced, and would not sag too much when it had to support the weight of one or more snared birds.
Birds were placed in rahu (baskets) for the purpose of conveying them to the camp. As a fowler secured birds in a tree, he often threw them down on the ground, to be collected afterward. Women sometimes engaged in bird-snaring, hence there are bird-snaring trees in many places bearing such names as Kake-wahine and Pikiwahine. To women were assigned trees that were easily ascended.
Snares are termed kaha, and the act of setting them and securing them to the tahu cord is described by the word whakawene. Tenei te kaha ka whiwhi, tenei te kaha ka rawe is the opening line of a charm repeated by fowlers when setting bird-snares. Snares page 240were prepared and fastened to the tahu, not when setting them at creek or on tree, but at the camp of the fowlers. A brief note reminds me that, when fowlers were taking and preserving pigeons, etc., in the forest, they would refrain from eating any of them during the hours of daylight, though they might do so after night had fallen. Living birds might see their kin being dressed and so desert the forest.
In No. 13 of the Addenda will be found a brief account of how pigeons were taken; this contribution came from a South Island native. He spoke as follows: "The taking of pigeons, kaka, koko [tui] and koparapara [bell-bird] commenced in the autumn. As to the first method of taking these birds, it was practised when the heat of the sun had dried the earth up, water became scarce and birds flew about seeking it. Now there were certain waters that were always resorted to by birds, and the Maori, knowing that they would frequent them at such a time, would surround such waters with snares. The greater expanse of water would be covered with branches, so that it was inaccessible to birds, a small expanse of it was left uncovered, at a place where birds would naturally alight. As soon as persons had arranged the snares, birds began to visit it—A-ha! They would settle on the perch placed near the snares, they would extend their necks in order to drink, and so be caught. Snare-loops were made of different sizes, according to the size of the birds being snared.
"Another method was used in taking small birds; a perch was fixed a little distance above the water, and birds would come and settle on the perch, whereupon they were struck down with a rod, and so killed. Of course other parts of the stream were used as snaring-places as well. When this method of snaring was done with, then a start was made at snaring birds feeding on berries; when these were ripe snares were arranged on the trees, on trees whereon snares had been set even from olden days, and not on a single tree or so, but on many. The uppermost branches of the tree were so manipulated as to provide suitable places for setting snares; when pigeons and koko alighted to feed on the berries their necks were caught in the snares. Such were Maori methods of taking birds, even from former generations, from olden times."
In the above communication we have some account of the wai taeke, pae, and tahei methods of taking birds. The Tuhoe people employed the tahei method on miro, maire, kahikatea, and matai trees, also on some smaller species, but not on rimu and rātā trees. When setting snares in tree tops the aim of the fowler was to place them as near as possible to the berries on which the birds page 241were feeding, and such berries are found principally on the outside of the tree-head, on the outermost extremities of branches. To set snares in such places, when Mother Earth is far below the operator, is a task that calls for a cool-headed expert; such experts sometimes lashed poles from branch to branch as hand or foot-holds in their perilous climbing, and in the case of weak or limber branches would use a form of rou, a pole with a crotch at one end that was hooked on to an upper branch and grasped firmly by the wary fowler. With all their dexterity fowlers occasionally came to a tragic end while attending to their snares, and so became 'food for roots' as the Maori puts it. In some cases where it was impossible to place the snares far enough out a perching rod and snare-laden tahu cord were lashed to short upright rods so as to form a connected whole, and this apparatus was launched outward until it was among the outer-most branchlets, whereupon the inner end of the perch rod was lashed to a branch. When birds were caught in such a manner then the lashing was taken off and the apparatus drawn in, snared birds recovered, snares reset and the apparatus again launched out and secured. When a fowler was engaged in arranging (tatakī) snares on a tāhū cord or line the latter might be secured at each end to branches, or to short uprights, turuturu, as explained, and he might consider it necessary to fix some intermediate turuturu. Some fowlers used a length of aka (stem of climbing plant) as a tahu to suspend snares from; it would be more durable than a cord and not so liable to sag. The saying Me te whata tarakihi (Like a tarakihi rack) was applied to such a set of snares showing a goodly number of strangled pigeons suspended from the tahu; the reference is to a number of tarakihi, a sea fish,, hung up on a fish-drying rack. The paerutu of such a bird-snaring apparatus probably denotes the horizontal rod arranged as an alighting-place for birds, and which is also known as a paerangi.
The late Colonel McDonnell wrote the following account of bird-snaring in the Hokianga district, as witnessed by him in his boyhood, for he used to accompany the old men when engaged at such tasks: "At the back of the Wai-kahanganui settlement was one of the most beautiful wooded valleys I can remember. A narrow brook of clear water ran through the middle of it …. this stream, in the pigeon-season, when the berries on the miro trees were red-ripe, used to be covered from sight by thickly-leaved branches, which were placed over it. It was but a moss-lined little brook, about eighteen inches wide, but deep, and ran the same winter and summer. This covering over was a work of care, but places were left at intervals here and there for the birds to come to bathe and drink. Each page 242of these drinking-places was provided with innumerable perches for the birds to light and plume themselves upon, but rows of snares were placed in every direction, and meshes out of number. These were made out of the cabbage-tree leaves, being much stronger than flax, and kept their shape like very thin steel. When this valley was used for bird-meshing, about three miles of it was laid under snares, and during the season it was under strict tapu, and only visited each evening before sundown to remove the captive and drowned birds, and replace any of the snares which had chanced to get broken or displaced; but under no pretence whatever were strangers permitted to go there, either in or out of season; in fact, it was never thought that anyone could have dreamt it possible to go to places of this kind, not being one of the tribe, and death would have followed to a certainty anyone who so transgressed tribal rights. The usual take, or harvest, of birds in one month, during the full fruiting of the miro in its season, was from 4500 to 5000 birds, such as pigeons, parrots, and tui; but even in my time, when I was a youngster, I used to accompany old Toenga Pou, when he went out bird-snaring to this valley, and have helped to lift between 300 and 400 birds from the few hundred yards of the stream he had prepared in the way I have described."
The following account of this wai taeke method of taking pigeons was contributed by an old bush ranger of Ngati Porou.
Snares were set around a water-pool for pigeons and tui, as also any other bird that might chance to visit the water. The waka or water-trough was not used among the Ngati Porou tribe, snares being set at pools or streams only, so far as water is concerned. A pole was placed in a horizontal position a little above the surface of the water, lashed to pegs thrust into the ground. This might be placed at the side of the pool or stream, or it might be placed across it. Above this pole was stretched a cord, also tied to the pegs, and the nooses were suspended from this cord so that they reached within a few inches of the pole, and were in the middle of it, so that, no matter which way a bird alighted upon the pole perch, it had a noose dangling before it; hence when it essayed to drink it would assuredly thrust its head through one of the dangling nooses. Birds do not fly direct to water, but first alight on some branch hard by, and thence fly down to the water; thus they are obeying a common habit when they alight upon the pole over which the snares are set. In this method, it does not appear to have been a practice on the East Coast to cover the pool with branches, save certain spaces left open and around which snares were set, as practised by the Tuhoe page 243folk and others. This blocking mode was reserved for taking birds by the 'striking' method.
The old man who gave me the above notes also told me that, when arranging snares at a wai taeke in his younger days, he has had the interesting experience of having pigeons settling on his shoulders, as they came to drink at the streamlet, also that, at such times, he had occasionally caught them by hand. When a fowler went to collect snared birds from such a set of snares he would repeat a charm known as tauhinu prior to commencing his task.
The Whanganui folk apply the name wai tumu to streams or pools at which snares were set for birds. Ngati Porou, who did not use water-troughs for taking pigeons, were wont to set snares for them at any little pool, however small, found on a log, tree, or rock, and such little pools they called wai poka taringa. Such little collections of rain-water at which birds drank, and at which they were snared, were also known as ngongo among Tuhoe, but they usually refer to them as wai tuhi. Occasionally I have heard a waka kereru, or wooden trough containing water whereat birds were snared, referred to as a waka waituhi. The water in a small natural hole in rock or log might be replenished when desirable as was that in a snaring-trough.
We are told by two of our writers on Maori matters that fowlers sometimes used captive pigeons to serve as decoys when taking that bird, these statements referring to the Horowhenua and Whanganui districts; but old fowlers of some other districts have maintained that they never heard of their elders having used decoys of this species. Tuhoe natives declared that it would be useless to use decoys of pigeon or koko (tui) when taking those birds, but decoy pigeons were used at Niue and Samoa.
Even as fishermen made offerings of fish to certain atua, in order to ensure good fortune, so did fowlers make offerings of birds with the same object in view, this being a private matter, quite apart from any ceremonial performances conducted by the tohunga. Thus fowlers of Taranaki would cast aside the first bird taken with the remark: E Maru! Ina tau (O Maru! Here is thine); this Maru was an atua of high standing in that district
The Maori held very peculiar notions concerning many things, and in his fowling operations he was very careful to carry out all his activities in manner orthodox; so it was that, when setting his round of snares, he would not turn back, not even to secure a bird just caught in a snare he had set. He would proceed with his task of snare-setting until he had completed his round, whereupon he would return to the first set snares, and, if considered advisable page 244he would retrace his steps and collect all ensnared birds and re-set the snares.
The following is a portion of an account of the arts of the Maori fowler contributed by Hori Ropiha in the early 'nineties, the Maori text of which is given in No. 15 of the Addenda: When it was known that a fruitful season was at hand, then persons set to work making snares, collecting leaves of Cordyline, splitting them, filling basket after basket with them, ready for the time when birds would be plentiful in the fruitful forests, and the manu taupunga appear there. When the manu taupunga appeared then, ere long, many birds appeared, and the taupunga would cry out and call to the birds, which birds would listen to its cry and flock in numbers to the fruitful woods. When the birds had become plump then fowlers went forth to snare them, fastening their snares to the tree-branches, until the tree-tops would be covered with the suspension-cords and snares. Each person would attend to snaring birds on such trees as stood on his own round, and also repeated charms to cause birds to come to them from other parts, such charms as the following:—
Nga manu i Tarawera te takina mai wairua o manu
Ko manu te kutikuti, ko manu te heihei
Kutikuti o te rangi pekapeka o Tane
Tane i wai inu, i wai inu ki te puna, Tane i hakune.
So each person recited charms at his own snaring trees.
Pigeons were occasionally taken by the tari method, that is to say by means of a running-noose arranged on the end of a rod; when he acquired horses the Maori employed this method of roping wild or timid animals when yarded. The Rev. G. Clarke, in his Early Life in New Zealand, speaks of seeing fowlers snaring pigeons as they were feeding on seeds of Cordyline by means of a slip noose on the end of a stick. "No gun was allowed in the place; the Maoris with a long, slender rod and a slip noose at the end squatted under the leaves and noiselessly slipped the noose over the necks of the stupid pigeons as they were feeding." Clarke says that in those days (the 'thirties and 'forties of last century) pigeons came in great flocks to these 'cabbage-trees,' and became so fat that flying was a difficulty to them. Also he refers to the dislike displayed by the Maori fowler for fowling-pieces, for that fowler took a pride in his skill at bird-snaring, and he objected to birds being frightened by the report of of fire-arms. Of a verity the Maori fowler destroyed vast quantities of birds, but he did so in a quiet and unprovocative manner that no bird could object to, and so birds and men remained good friends. The method of noosing birds here termed tari is referred to by some page 245natives as tahere. We have already seen that the kaka parrot was sometimes taken in this way; that bird can be taken by tori or mutu snare, because the fowler is at hand ready to put the parrot ont of action, but a set taeke (tahei) snare would not hold it long, as it is unattended.
Haast speaks of the pigeon being taken by tori in the South Island in 1860. He wrote: "This bird is so stupid as often to remain sitting on a branch until the traveller has cut a long stick and passed the flax snare at the end of it round its neck." I have never heard of the pigeon being taken by the hauhau or striking method.
The pigeon was taken by means of the spear on the miro, kahikatea, Cordyline and to a lesser extent on a few other trees, but this depended much on the quantities of berries available; when sallying forth with a spear it is well to do so when berries are plentiful, so that the birds are absorbed in their feeding, and not easily startled or distracted as they are when feeding on leaves. When spearing birds on lofty trees the fowler usually occupied the platform from which he manipulated his long cords when using the mutu snaring perches; sometimes he found it necessary to move about among the branches in order to get an effective prod at his prey, for ever one or two rests were needed to support the long, slim and limber bird-spear shafts (Figs. 13, 14). In spearing birds on some low-growing trees and many Cordyline australis the operator would remain on the ground.
The pigeon was sometimes taken by the mutu method, already explained in dealing with the kaka; some seemed to have used the mutu kaka for taking pigeons, while others made similar perches of a smaller size, and used them in taking pigeons and tui. The measurement of eighteen inches assigned to the perch of a mutu or tekateka at p. 42 of Te Hekenga is abnormal, and probably represents a printer's error, the book being full of such evidences of laxness on the part of proof reader or printer.
We now come to the waka kereru, or waituhi, or waka waituhi method of taking pigeons, occasionally termed simply waka manu or bird trough (see Figs. 15 16 17 18 19). This method consisted of exposing a small trough full of water at certain places frequented by pigeons, and, when the birds became aware of the water, they would resort to it when thirsty, rather than visit more distant places. Snares were so set round the water in the trough that it was scarcely possible for a bird to reach drink without getting caught. It is quite probable that this practice originated in the custom of setting snares round the little pools of water called wai tuhi, ngongo, etc., as described above. This water-trough method seems to have been page 246evolved in the north, either in the Waikato district or further north; at several places south of the former district natives have stated that the custom was not an old one with them, but had been introduced from the north. The Ngati Porou folk told me that the water-trough was not used in their district; the Tuhoe people stated that their elders did not use them until just before the advent of Europeans; Tamarau Waiari said that they were first used at Ruatahuna about 1839. An old settler of the Otaki district who has done much pigeon shooting in the ranges tells me that he never saw a single hewn-out elevated trough, and only one wai tuhi formed by hollowing out a big root of a rata tree on the Hanawera ridge, near Manakau. J. C. Crawford evidently saw these snaring-troughs between Taupo and Taumarunui in the 'sixties, for, in describing his march by that route, he says: "Pigeons are snared in this way: An open dish, canoe-shaped, is placed in the boughs of a tree and filled with water, while its sides are set with snares. The pigeons stand on the side to drink, and get their heads or legs into the snare, in which they are suspended." Some waka kereru have been seen in the bush of the Taupo district during the past ten years, i.e., 1920 to 1930. In Featon's account of a raid made by the Forest Rangers in the Waikato district in 1863 we find the following: "Spots with pigeon-snares were passed; they consisted of a hole, square or round, cut into some broad surface-root of a large tree, filled with water and surrounded by snares attached to an adjoining little upright frame." The said frame would consist of four short uprights to which would be lashed rods in a horizontal position, to serve as tahu wherefrom to suspend the snares. In the Auckland Museum is a section of a miro-root that has been hollowed out to serve as a wai tuhi, or wai kuku as sometimes alluded to.
In most cases these snaring-troughs were used at places where the miro tree was found, and miro is a tree that is particular as to where it takes root; also it is found scattered among other species; one does not find a solid stand of miro in any forest. The pigeon is very partial to the ripe berries of this tree, which berries, however, seem to be more provocative of thirst than any other of the food-supplies of that bird. This means that, ever and anon, the birds seek the nearest water, and so the Maori fowler not only set his snares at streams and pools so resorted to, but also set up his bird-snaring troughs, sometimes among the branches of a tree, and occasionally on the trunk of a leaning tree; also they were in some cases set on posts embedded in the ground at some clear space near a miro tree, or trees; such posts were about 5 ft. in height. Miro trees page 247are frequently found standing in a scattered manner along the crest of a ridge, and so these troughs would be set up at intervals along such a ridge-top, and that line of troughs would be known as an ara waka, literally a trough-way, or path, or route. When the birds began to feed on the ripe berries the fowler would busy himself in filling his waka or troughs with water; peradventure a timely rain might save him the trouble, otherwise he would undertake the labour of carrying water from the nearest stream, spring or pool; the vessel used might be a gourd, or a bark vessel. Having filled his troughs he would then proceed to influence the birds, so as to cause them to visit his snare-set troughs; that is to say he would repeat a charm to cause the birds to become athirst. The Maori fowler had many such useful charms in his budget of karakia, and this particular one is described as He whaunu ki nga manu o te ngaherehere kia hiainu, kia haere mia ki te inu. This whaunu seems to be a variant form of whainu, and both of them equivalent to wheinu, thirsty or causing to be thirsty, thus the phrase above means a causing of the birds of the forest to be thirsty, and to come and drink. Ere long the birds would find out that the troughs contained water, and after that there would be no need for karakia whaunu or thirst-causing charms.
The waka or troughs were usually 4 ft. to 5 ft. in length, though an abnormally large one in the Whanganui Museum is about 10ft. long, and is shaped like a canoe instead of the common rectangular form; this specimen came from Moawhango, and is much the largest I have ever seen. An ordinary trough would be about 8 in. or 9 in. wide, and the hollowed out part about 4 in. or 5 in. in width and say 4 in. in depth extending nearly the whole length of the squared timber; all such troughs seen by me bore no appearance of age. In some cases these troughs had been assigned special names, just as snaring-trees were named, especially in the case of miro. Also I have occasionally seen troughs embellished with carved designs, perchance a grotesque carved head on either side, or at either end. A specimen in the Dominion Museum has the sides covered with scroll designs, etc. See Fig. 15. There are several carved specimens in the Auckland Museum.
The carved trough alluded to above (Fig. 15) is No. 1973 in the Dominion Museum list of Maori artifacts; it is an abnormal specimen, inasmuch as both of its outer sides are covered with carved designs, the two sides being alike as to designs. In the middle of each side is a grotesque head, and this is the central part of a design well known as the double manaia, facing the head on either side is one of the weird-looking creatures termed manaia. At each end of the page 248carved part of the side is a single outward facing manaia, and in the middle of each space between the central design and the two single manaia is a scroll design; as will be observed these are the main features of the carving. The full length of this trough is 5 ft. 4 in., the length of the projection at either end 7 in.: the full width is 10 in. and depth 6½ in. The excavated trough is 3 ft. 1 in. long, 6 in wide., and 3¼ in. deep.
No. 1974 in the Dominion Museum is a specimen of the ordinary bird trough; the form of its projecting ends recalls the waka of the Whanganui district. Its full length is 4 ft. 8½ in., full depth 6½ in., width across middle 9 in., towards ends 8 in. The hollowed out trough is 2 ft. 6 in. long, 4 in. wide, and 3 in. deep. On the outer face of each side is a carved grotesque head; this is in the middle, and hereat the sides of the trough are 2½ in. thick, but only 2 in. elsewhere. At each of these thick central parts a vertical hole has been pierced, being about 1 in. in diameter, these would serve to accommodate the two central uprights to be described anon.
In Fig. 18 we see a fitted up bird-snaring trough from Ruatahuna that carried the Dominion Museum No. 3952. This specimen is fitted with perches and snares ready for use, it lacks but water in the trough—and birds. It is 4 ft. 9 in. long, 6½ in. wide, and 6 in. deep. The excavated trough is 2 ft. 5 in. long, 4 in. wide, and 2¼ in. deep; the timber is totara, as are many of these troughs, and, like the great majority of these artifacts, it shows no carved designs. A short account will show how this trough is fitted up for the business of taking birds, and we will describe the different fittings in the order in which they were attached. In the first place a short piece of rod 13 in. long and about .1 in. in diameter is lashed across the upper part of the trough at each end of the hollo wed-out part; this arorangi, as it is called, projects out at each side of the trough, and is secured to it by lashings of thin oka (pliant stems of climbing plants) passed right round the waka: such material is much more durable as a lashing than any kind of fibre. Laid across the top of these crosspieces are the two longitudinal rods termed paepae, which are in this case 3 ft. 5 in. long and 1 in. thick. Roughly speaking the inner edges of these longitudinals are just above or in line with the outer edges of the sides of the trough; the sides of the hollowed out trough are 1 in. thick. The next parts to be added are the six turuturu or upright rods, each about 14 in. long and ½ in. thick; three of these are secured in a vertical position on either side of the trough, the two at either end being included in the lashing that binds the longitudinal paepae to the cross-pieces. The four end-uprights are placed in the angle where the paepae ride the arorangi, and the other two are in the page 249 page 250 page 251 page 252 page 253 page 254 page 255 page 256 page 257 page 258 page 259 page 260 page 261 page 262 page 263 page 264 page 265 middle, as seen in the Illustration; the two intermediate uprights are lashed to the paepae, and all project about 10 in. above the paepae. All these sticks used are merely round rods and serve only for the season; prior to the opening of each snaring-season all water-troughs were refitted, the actual troughs alone being durable.
No snares were set at the ends of the troughs, the space between the end uprights being blocked so as to prevent birds gaining access to the water where no snares had been placed. In the case of the trough just described some lengths of thin aka have been stretched across these end spaces and small branchlets stuck in the same; such a block is called a whakaruru. On either side of the trough were secured the tāhū lines from which the snares were suspended, one such on either side, and these were tied to the three turuturu about 6 in. above the trough; each tahu is but a strip of raw flax (Phormium) leaf. From these horizontal lines hang the many snares, these being arranged so as to overlap each other; these snares are fashioned from narrow strips of Cordyline australis leaf but 1-16th inch wide. So cunningly were these snares arranged that it was difficult for a pigeon to obtain a drink without being caught.
In some districts no flax tahu was used, but a rod was secured longitudinally along the middle of the trough and resting on it, there being no arorangi; to this rod snares were attached on either side so as to project horizontally over the desired water and overlapping each other, as shown in our illustration. Yet another plan was to secure the snares to a longitudinal rod secured outside the trough and somewhat below its level. Fig. 16 shows this method; the birds, settling on the edge of the trough, had to pass their heads through the snare-loops in order to reach the water. In the last two methods described flax would be a quite unsuitable material for snares, being of much too flaccid a nature, whereas the strips of Cordyline leaf will remain set at almost any angle.
It would appear that bark was sometimes used as a material for these troughs, though the writer has never seen a specimen of such. Mr. Colenso refers to them in one of his interesting papers (See Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, vol. 24, p. 451), and the reference is in connection with the curious usage of working bird-spears through little hoops, a matter already noted in the present paper, and concerning which I think some mistake has been made. Here follows Colenso's account of loop-confined spear and bark trough: "When [the bird spear was] quite finished and ready for use a suitable tall and straight tree was found in, or on the edge of, the forest; its trunk was trimmed of branchlets, etc.; the long spear was loosely fixed vertically to it, so as to run easily through small round page 266horizontal loops girt to the tree, and placed at some distance from each other; the tip of the spear concealed, yet protruding near the topmost branches of the tree; and, as the pigeon is a very thirsty bird (especially, I should think, after feeding on the large fruits of the tawa and of the miro, Podocarpus ferruginea trees, which are hot and piquant), the Maori made small corrugated vessels of the green bark of the totara tree that would hold water, and fixed such on the top of the tree to which the long spear had been lashed, and by-and-by, when the bird was settled above after drinking, the spear was gently pulled down by its owner below on the ground, and sent up with a jerk into the body of the pigeon. I have seen the fixed spear thus used in the forests …. I may here mention that I have also seen those totara-bark dishes, with water in them, fixed high up on the big branches of trees in the woods in the Urewera country, having flax nooses so set over the water as to catch and hold fast the pigeon in its drinking. I have seen pigeons so caught, the Maoris climbing the trees naked with the agility of monkeys to secure their prizes."
Inasmuch as the spearer stood on the ground in the account above given it follows that the trees must have been small ones. Again, as the spear shaft was confined within several small loops 'placed at some distance from each other,' it follows that the spear could not be deflected in any direction, but the perator would have to wait until a pigeon obligingly placed itself in line with the spear-point ere he could transfix it. I cannot imagine any Maori being so unwise as to so hinder the free use of the spear. Judging from personal observation I should say that the Maori relied largely on deflection when spearing birds, and only seeking a new rest for his spear when such deflection was not attainable to the extent that he desired. Moreover, the spear is said to have been so confined in small hoops near the trunk of the tree, an awkward and undesirable position, I lived fifteen years among the natives who are said to have fixed bird-spears in such a manner, and never heard a word of such an eccentric procedure, although I closely questioned grey-headed old forest fowlers who had used spear, snare, and trap for long years. They told me that confining loops were never used by their elders or themselves, that a free spear was used, rested on branches and worked in any or all directions according to where birds happened to be feeding or perching at the time; also that, in most cases, spears were used by men perched among the branches, usually on a rude platform.
It may be mentioned that, when these water-troughs were put up on posts set in the ground, the turuturu were sometimes long page 267rods that extended down to the earth, which made for stability. Whenever necessary during the season our Maori fowler replenished the water-supply in his troughs. A few old natives were employing this method of taking pigeons, and the mutu for taking the kaka parrot as late as the 'nineties at Ruatahuna. To recall seeing the Maori using the bird-spear I have to hark back over the trail of memory as far as the middle 'seventies; in some districts, however, they have been used in later times, as at Ruatahuna. Fowlers of that district told me that the pigeon and kaka were the only birds that could be taken in stormy weather.
At p. 8 of vol. 37 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society Mr. Downes gives an illustration of a 'double-noose' method of taking pigeons at water troughs, a method wherein it seems to have been necessary to pull a noose the full length of the trough hollow, say 3 ft. in order to catch a bird, after which the fowler would have to go up to the trough, wherever it might be set, release the bird, reset the snare, and return to his stand. A mutu would have been much less trouble to work. Probably a very small trough was used. Downes contributes the name of maungaroa for the projecting ends of the trough, and shows some peculiar forms thereof, apparently of post-European origin. According to Mr. Downes poles lashed to branches in a horizontal position to support water troughs are called turuturu by Whanganui natives, and possibly this is correct; for the descendants of Haunui-a-aparangi have some strange terms, but never yet have I heard a Maori employ this common term to denote anything horizontal. In the peculiar styles of rigging up these troughs adopted by Whanganui folk it is interesting to note Mr. Downes' illustration and explanation of the highly useful whitiki knot tied in the basal part of the snare-strip which serves to deflect the loop of the snare to the desired angle. Tauria Papanui of Whanganui, a member of the old Native Contingent, informed me that these bird-snaring troughs were sometimes suspended from branches by means of aka ties; also that he saw such troughs in use at Waitotara in the 'sixties.
The Maori teils us that to hear the cry of a pigeon during the night is ominous, a tatai mate—misfortune is at hand. The Tuhoe people say that occasionally they have found nests of the pigeon in low-growing trees, but that it is a most unfortunate thing to do so; some dire misfortune will overtake the finder ere long; indeed, he will probably die. It is, however, comforting to know that others may go and boldly look at the nest without being harried by Aitua (personified form of misfortune).page 268
When engaged in bird-snaring, the fowler often put the collected birds in a hole and covered them with leaves, these being poured into such hole in baskets full. This was done lest the living birds should see their dead kind and be frightened away, or become too timid to drink of the water where the snares were arranged. Also, if well covered, flies would not be able to get at them, though this was not alluded to by my native informants.
When counting his take of birds the Maori clung to some peculiar usuages of his forebears; thus he had a special term to denote the counting of birds prepared for potting, the term being whakarnoe. In the counting of birds the binary system was followed; they were counted in braces (pu), and this mode of counting is known as tatau topu. When actually counting objects in this way the Maori proceeds as follows: Ka tahi pu (one brace). Ka rua pu (tv/o brace), etc. To express seven he would say Ka toru pu, taukehe (Three brace and an odd one). In many cases the Maori did not aim at precision when mentioning such things as numbers of a raiding-force, a bag of game, etc.; if a native packed between 20 and 30 birds in a basket he would probably say that it contained ten brace, ka whakarerea nga tauwhara, the odd ones were omitted. In at least some districts the smaller birds, such as the tui, were counted in a peculiar manner; a 'brace' consisted of four birds. Mr. Downes teils us that the Whanganui folk use the term pu to denote ten when counting birds, that is dead birds, a very singular usage; certainly the Maori had some very singular methods of enumeration, and some of them were more or less local usages. Fowlers have told me that, in order to attain a round number, they would sometimes endeavour to take a few more birds ere returning home.
The usual mode of cooking birds was the well-known steaming process called tao by the Maori, a small pit serving as a substitute for a portable vessel; this steaming-pit is known as a hangt, umu, hapi, and other names. A fire was kindled in the pit, fuel piled on it, and a number of stones placed on the fuel provided the necessary heat when the fire died down, and, when water was sprinkled on these heated stones, the necessary permeating steam was generated. Supplies to be cooked were quickly arranged in the pit, on green herbage placed over the hot stones, then covered with similar herbage, over which mats were spread, and the whole covered with earth well padded down to prevent the steam escaping. Birds were not cleaned prior to being cooked in these steam-ovens, all was bird that came to the Maori net. The roasting of birds before an open fire was little practised by the Maori save when time pressed, as page 269when travelling, also occasionally in ceremonial Performances, and when the birds were to be potted. A northern note is to the effect that the first bird (or one of the first lot of birds) caught, was plucked in the forest and then roasted at a fire generated by friction, while a karakia or formula was repeated over the bird as it was being cooked. The cooked bird was not eaten as a part of the ceremony, but was hung up on a tree that it might be consumed by Tane, that is to say, as an offering to the over-lord of forests.
It has already been recorded that the Maori sometimes wrapped fish in leaves ere cooking them, for which see No. 12 of this Bulletin series. He occasionally served birds in the same manner: when Mr. C. H. Kettle ascended the Manawatu river during his exploring trip of 1842 he reached a point about fifty miles inland on 7 May. His Journal contains the following remarks under that date: "At noon stopped at a small settlement called Tiatoka, where we made a meal of some tuees [tui] roasted in the leaf of a tree called heraurekau [raurekau=Coprosma grandifolia]. These leaves will not burn, and they are wrapped round the bird, so that none of the fat can escape; the bird cooked in this manner is really very delicious."
In Memories of New Zealand Life by E. Hodder, published in 1862, the author mentions the following method of cooking a kaka bird that he saw followed by natives at Aorere, in the Nelson district: "Without divesting it of the feathers, it was rolled in some moist clay and then patted round so as thoroughly to encase it; then it was put into the fire, and, when the clay had become red hot, the case was broken and out came the bird, cooked and ready for eating, the clay retaining most of the feathers." This mode of cooking cannot be viewed as a Maori custom, but merely as an occasional usage; were it otherwise than assuredly we should know more about it. The only note of a similar nature that I have ever obtained in the North Island was a brief communication to the effect that, in former times, the Whanganui natives sometimes cooked birds by means of the turehu method, which seems to consist of burying the birds in wet earth and then lighting a fire on the spot, which fire was kept burning for some time. Quite probably they were buried in the sense of being covered with wet earth or clay, and not placed in an excavated pit.
Yet another mode of cooking birds was that known as tukohu; it consisted of placing the birds in a bowl, probably a half gourd shell, and then setting the bowl in an umu or steam oven pit, and carefuUy covering it. This bowl or dish could, when the oven was opened up, be removed and placed before diners without disturbing the contents; the vessel retained all the melted fat so much relished by Maori folk.page 270
The Maori of Waikato tell us that the hawk (kāhu) and sparrow-hawk (kaiaia) were not eaten, neither were the cuckoo and owl> these creatures being reptile eaters. I have seen Maori children cook and eat the owl, and I am pretty well sure that they would not discard a cuckoo, or would not have in former times. For the Maori himself ate ngarara when he could get them; tuatara lizards, earthworms, and other such delicacies were formerly indulged in when obtainable; also he certainly ate bats.
Tail-feathers of the pigeon were often preserved to serve as adornments for tahā huahua and papa totara, vessels in which the birds were preserved in fat, and for some other purposes; the body feathers of divers colours were occasionally used in the making of showy feather-mantles, as also were those of the kaka, tui, and some other species.
* Williams' Dictionary, 5th ed. Cf. Dowries. Journal of Polynesian Society, vol. 37, p. 6, where it is applied to the perch rod. Cf. tarawa.