Snaring birds

This waka waituhi (bird snare) is on display at the Te Awamutu Museum.​

The Waipā region was well known for its plentiful bird life, which inhabited its vast forests. Birds such as kererū, kākā and tūī were a good food resource full of protein and fat. They were not only used for food; the feathers were used for cloaks as well.

Seasonal harvesting around May to July ensured an ample supply of birds. The most common tool used by traditional Māori bird harvesters was a snare. Successful bird harvesters knew which trees attracted birds and which type of snare to use.

Kererū were large, plentiful, tame and good to eat. Known for their greediness, kererū would gorge themselves on forest fruit in the autumn and winter, making them easier to catch. After eating berries, the kererū would search for water.

Kererū are also the only bird that ‘prays’ before eating, a feeding behaviour observed by Māori where the bird will hold fruit in its beak before eating​ with head bowed and eyes closed. As such kererū are held in high regard by Māori. Having kererū as food was considered a sign of prosperity and kererū was often reserved for special occasions.

The waka waituhi is a water trough, lined with flax twine tied into multiple nooses. It is almost impossible for a bird to land on the edge and take a drink without getting caught. The troughs would be placed in kahikatea and miro trees, two key feeding grounds for kererū.​

Page reviewed: 28 Feb 2018 9:33am