Te Kawau-a-Toru was a sacred bird – a king shag, also known as a cormorant – loyal to Kupe. Possessing a huge wingspan, he was reputed to be ‘the eye of the ancestors’ – a special bird with insights into ancient knowledge. Kupe also had a pet pigeon, Rupe, who is said to have found so much food in the South Island’s forests that he neglected Kupe and remained there.
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Photograph by Andy Cox
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