Story: First peoples in Māori tradition

New Zealand king shag

New Zealand king shag

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, which is said to have found so much food in the South Island’s forests that he abandoned Kupe and remained there.

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Photograph by Andy Cox

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How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'First peoples in Māori tradition - Kupe', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 June 2024)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 8 Feb 2005