The New Zealand bush did not provide as much food as forests in tropical Polynesia. Significant bush clearance went on in the North and South islands, usually by burning. This was to clear land for horticulture and also to promote the growth of aruhe (fern root).
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Source: Malcolm McKinnon, ed., Bateman New Zealand historical atlas: kopapatuanuku e takotonei. Auckland: David Bateman, 1997, plate 12