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Forest Lore of the Maori

The Bat or Pekapeka:

The Bat or Pekapeka:

The bat or pekapeka (Chalinolobus morio and Mystarops tuberculatus) was eaten in former times. As a rule they took up their quarters in hollow trees, and natives have told me that such colonies were sometimes very large. I have heard bats described as ngarara by natives, a term employed to denote reptiles and insects. The method of taking them consisted of kindling a smoky fire inside the lower part of the hollow tree, when the ascending smoke stupefied the bats after a time, whereupon they fell to the bottom of the hollow, where the bat-eaters secured them. They were energetic in securing the first that appeared, for the belief was that if this first to appear escaped then but few would be taken.

Prior to the publication of Mr. T. F. Cheeseman's paper on the bats of New Zealand in vol. 26 of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute it does not seem to have been definitely determined as to whether or not they lived in communities. The evidence recorded in that paper was conclusive that they do so live in communities. Statements made to me by old natives in past years support the above evidence, some asserting that several hundreds would occasionally be found in one tree. Such a bats' den of our local 'flittermouse' is a rua pekapeka; the word puta seems to be used when describing a smaller hollow in a tree, as in puta kaka, a brown parrot's nest Mr. R. Caldwell recorded some account of a colony of bats found by him in a hollow beech-tree. On a fire being kindled in the tree the bats flew out in hundreds, and Mr. Caldwell's companion succeeded in killing a hundred of them. Quite so; naturally he would; though it is not explained that he ate them.

The saying He hokioi rere po, he pekapeka rere ahiahi, a night-flying hokioi, an evening-flying bat, was used in connection with persons travelling at night.

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