SNAIL, FLAX or PUPUHARAKEKE
This is a tall-spired, solidly built chocolate to reddish-brown land snail up to 3 in. in height. Formerly these snails were abundant along the Northland East Coast from Whangarei to Whangaroa, but, with the clearing of coastal forest, they now exist only in a few isolated spots. The species, however, still survives in strength at the Poor Knights Islands. These snails are vegetarian and feed largely upon fallen karaka leaves. They are found hidden under leaves and around sedges, but in flax only when there is no other cover.
Another species, ambagiosus, with several subspecies, belongs to the Cape Maria van Diemen-North Cape area, and a third, the largest of them all, is found at the Three Kings Islands. The latter occurs in very small colonies but survival is now assured by the action of the Department of Internal Affairs, some years ago, in having the main island cleared of goats, which were playing havoc with its flora and fauna.
The Placostylus snails are significant in the reconstruction of former land connections, for they occur outside New Zealand only in the Melanesian islands, northwards to the Solomons, and eastwards to Fiji. This area of distribution coincides with the now largely submerged “Melanesian plateau”.
by Arthur William Baden Powell, Assistant Director, Auckland Institute and Museum.