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Legends of the Maori

The Bird of Summer

page 293

The Bird of Summer.

A song of greeting to the riroriro (the grey warbler), whose trilling in the thickets and on the bush edge is a sign that summer is beginning. The Maori loves to hear this little bird. Its endless song—always seeming to stop unfinished—has been described by a New Zealand poet as “half joy and half regret.” The English robin’s song has been called “a throatful of heartache.” Our Maori would apply just such a description to the riroriro’s lay—

Tangi e te riroriro,
Te tohu o te raumati;
Tua rua tonu mai;
Tikina mai tirohia,
Tenei ano ahau
Te au reti mai nei,
O te kawe mai
A puna-roimata,
Te aroha whitiora,
Kia ora te kaupapa i au.


Sweetly sings the riroriro,
Chant of summer days;
Sing it over again to me;
Come forth that I may see thee.
My ears ensnare thy melody
The chant that brings the gushing tears
Of joy and love,
The song that cheers
The very heart of me.