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The Autobiography of a Maori

Fat Kakas Shaken from Trees

Fat Kakas Shaken from Trees

Though I am now an old man and my father died fifty-two years ago, one memory will ever be green in my mind, and that was the night we spent in the forest. When the hinau berries were ripe and falling to the ground the kaka (native parrot) was fattest. The bird descended to the ground to eat the fallen berries and became so fat and heavy that it could not fly from the ground. When disturbed it could only climb up a small tree or a supple-jack, and, to bring it to the ground, one had only to shake the tree or the supple-jack. All kakas, of course, were not as helpless as this. It was to shoot or catch the kaka that my father and I penetrated far into the forest at Tauri. Our expedition was so successful that nightfall found us still in the forest. After our evening meal, my father heaped up some dry, dead leaves on which we could lie. I crept close to my father and, turning my back to his so that I could face ghosts and wild animals if they should happen to come along, I gazed into the impentrable darkness. But for the cry of the morepork, perfect stillness page 42reigned. As a matter of fact, the doleful cry of the morepork added to the weirdness and uncanniness of the night. The songs of the tui and of the bell-bird heralded the dawn and dissipated all my childish fears and imaginations.