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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

Pets, Little and Big

Pets, Little and Big.

I read lately that a settler family in Taranaki had made friends with a colony, or shoal, of the little indigenous fish called kokopu, in a stream near the homestead. The kokopu were so tame, or unafraid, that they came up near the bank to be fed by the farmer and his daughter; they would eat out of their hands.

Other country residents have found that eels can be fed in the same way? and all visitors to Rotorua know how well tamed the trout are in the ponds in the Sanatorium grounds. But the Maori is entitled to regard all this small-fry petting with a superior kind of smile. He can—or could—do much better than that! He didn&t bother with kokopu and tuna. He had tame whales and even dragons, or something very like a dragon. It was all a matter of mana, he says; a chief possessed a hereditary powerful mana, the spiritual increment of generation after generation of, sacred ancestors, had amazing powers over the lesser world. There were famous whales which came at call, the Maori-Polynesian wireless, the exercise of will-power. A tohunga marooned on White Island by his enemies once escaped from that isle of volcanic terrors by means of his whale-god, which responded to his call and took him to within easy swimming distance of the mainland. There were pet ngarara—probably large tuatara lizards—around which all manner of folktales were woven by the tale-loving Maori.