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Forest Lore of the Maori

Koreke or Quail (Coturnix novae-zealandiae):

page 192

Koreke or Quail (Coturnix novae-zealandiae):

So far as we know there were two common methods of taking the quail; one of these was by arranging snares as when setting them for the pukeko, while the other was a form of trap called a korapa, and whakarapa. The snaring-apparatus was low-hung and diminutive for the taking of so small a bird. From the point of view of the Maori fowler, who had no gun or any suitable missile weapon, such birds as quail and swamp-hen were flightless, true ground game; the Maori had no method of killing or taking them in flight. Ever the Polynesian seems to have neglected the bow and arrow for some unknown reason; surely our local pigeon would have been easily taken by such means.

The quail formed little paths through vegetation, and it was across these that the snares were set by sticking a peg in the earth on either side of the track, connecting them by means of a horizontal tie to which the small slip-nooses, were attached. We sometimes read that quail were taken by means of a net, but that term is somewhat misleading for the korapa, which would be better described as a trap, and which will be described when we come to deal with the robin.

We have brief notes on record concerning the quail in the writings of early voyagers and others, commencing in 1769; the earlier references refer principally to the North Island. In Haast's report on South Island exploration, published in 1861, the quail is spoken of as being numerous there, but a record by another report was to the effect that it was becoming scarce in that island in 1855. Hursthouse reported in the 'fifties that it was becoming scarce, and in 1869 Potts stated that it was almost extinct. Heaphy saw quail at Miramar and Island Bay, Wellington, in the early 'forties, but stated that the bird was not common in the North Island.