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Forest Lore of the Maori


Apart from birds and other forms of animal life the Maori obtained, in most districts, a considerable amount of food-products from the bush. These consisted of the berries, roots, leaves and, in a few cases, the trunks of trees, shrubs and small plants, together with fungi. The pollen of raupo, a, swamp plant, provided him with a comparatively small amount of a peculiar form of bread-like food. These edible products may be divided into two classes, one including such berries, roots, etc., as provided a goodly amount of food, and the other such minor items as furnished but a small amount or merely served as a ' 'tween meal' diversion for children. We will commence our survey of these products by dealing with the various fruits or berries, none of which, it may be stated, find any marked favour in European eyes.

The obtaining of food-supplies was ever a highly important task with the Maori, whose cultivated food-plants were sub-tropical products of warmer climes. Always the Maori had to be thinking of the future in the way of laying by supplies of food to tide him over the lean season, and so the following old saying has come down to us: "Mahia he wahie mo takurua, mahia he kai mo tau" This saying urges man to collect fuel for the winter, but to provide food for all seasons.