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The Material Culture of the Cook Islands (Aitutaki)


page 317


The bird life was not plentiful enough to form a source of food supply, with the exception of the fowl, moa. These ran wild in many parts, and were caught in a trap. No information was obtained as to bird snares or bird spears.

Fowl trap, marei. The principle of this trap was the running noose attached to a bent stick, which was set off by a trigger. A green stick of a springy nature was used. It is now usually taken from the introduced guava. To one end is tied a long cord, to which again a short stick about two inches long is attached near the stick end fastening, Fig. 276b. Beyond the stick the cord is brought round to form a running noose, c.

Figure 276.Marei trap, spring, trigger, and noose.

Figure 276.
Marei trap, spring, trigger, and noose.

A fence of upright stakes is built round to form an enclosure, in which a gap is left as an entrance. At one side of the entrance a piece of stick forming an inverted U is stuck firmly in the ground, Fig. 277d. The springy stick, a, is firmly planted in the ground at the back of the enclosure in such a position that, when bent down, the end with the running noose will come just above the inverted U. Another stick, wider than the width of the arched stick, d, is placed horizontally across it, as shown by e.

page 318
Figure 277.Setting the marei trap.

Figure 277.
Setting the marei trap.

The springy stick, a, is bent over the arch, d, and the short stick, b, passed through the arch above, e, and from the opposite side to which e lies against d. The stick, b, is turned vertically and the spring, a, released. The pull of the spring upon the trigger, b, keeps the cross piece, e, in position. The cross piece, whilst in this position, prevents the spring from being released.

To spring the trap a number of sticks, f, are placed across the entrance, with one end resting on the cross piece, e. Over the sticks, f, the noose, c, is spread as in Fig. 277. A bait is now laid within the enclosure. To reach the bait the fowl must across the slicks, f, stretched across the entrance. When a fowl steps on one of the sticks, the weight pushes down the cross bar, e, and releases the trigger, b. Once b is released the spring, a, flies up and closes the noose, c, on the bird.