Wild birds were a staple food for Māori. This kererū has been caught in a snare – a flax noose over a wooden water-trough. Māori also hunted birds with spears. After plucking, cleaning and cooking their catches, they preserved them in the birds’ own fat, in containers such as bull kelp bladders, gourds, or baskets made of tōtara bark.
In the few centuries after Māori first settled in New Zealand, the largest or most easily caught birds – particularly flightless ones – became extinct due to hunting. Their slow breeding rates meant they could not replace the numbers lost. Kererū have survived, but their numbers are too low to withstand regular harvesting.
Using this item
Department of Conservation
Photograph by Peter Morrison
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