Story: Wading birds

‘The godwits have risen and flown’

‘The godwits have risen and flown’

At the northern tip of Aotearoa, the arrival of kūaka or godwits from the north each spring, and their departure in the autumn, has important symbolism for Muriwhenua iwi. When the people under Tūmatahina escaped from the besieged of Murimotu, it was said they flew away like godwits. The chant ‘Ruia, ruia, tahia, tahia’ recalls that legendary escape:

Ruia, ruia, tahia, tahia,
Kia hemo te kākoakoa,
Kia herea mai i te kawau korokī.
Kia tātaki mai i roto i te pūkorokoro, whaikoro,
Te kūaka, he kūaka mārangaranga,
Tahi manu i tau ki te tāhuna, tau atu, tau atu, tau atu!

Scatter, scatter, sweep on, sweep on,
Let us not be plundered by our foe,
The rope has been stretched out and fastened, let us rejoice.
Moving along the rope,
The godwits have risen and flown,
One has landed, to the beach, the others follow!

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10035336
Photograph by Rod Morris

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How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Wading birds - Bar-tailed godwits', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/9187/the-godwits-have-risen-and-flown (accessed 24 October 2019)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015