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Forest Lore of the Maori

The Crested Grebe and the Dabchick:

The Crested Grebe and the Dabchick:

Of the two species of grebe there is little to say, for I have but seldom heard Maori folk refer to them. The kāha was formerly found at Waikare-iti, a high-altitude lake near Waikare-moana; this kāha is Podicipes cristatus, and it has long disappeared from the lone lake mentioned. Natives of the surrounding district informed me that these birds constructed floating nests and, in some way, contrived to anchor them to the bed of the lake in shoal places. The first part of the Statement is credible, for we read in Hornaday's The Minds and Manners of Wild Animals that: "The grebe thoughtfully keeps its nest above high-water mark by building on a floating page 343island. Another explanation of local natives was to the effeet that the birds constructed their nests on the ends of branches that trailed in the water. Certainly they have been known to make their nests on floating stationary rubbish.

The weweia (Podicipes rufipectus) was apparently more common than the kāha, for it is referred to as an item of the Maori foodsupply. I have been told that a few are always seen in the crater-pond of Putauaki (Mt. Edgecumbe); Dr. Nesbitt and others who ascended that mount in 1868 speak of seeing it there.

I have been told that the kāha was seen on two occasions at Waikare-moana, and once at Waikare-iti sixty years ago (1870) by the late Captain G. Mair.

Elderly natives have told me of a bird they called the manapou, that had two topknots, and that it formerly frequented a pond, lake, or lagoon at Pihanga, which sheet of water they alluded to as the Roto-pounamu. Possibly this bird may have been the crested grebe. A further Statement to the effect that this bird was wont to dive down to the bed of the lake there to deposit its eggs and bring forth its young, I was reluctantly compelled to mark as 'doubtful.'