Story: Te Ao Mārama – the natural world

The Battle of the Birds

These three birds are Auckland Island shags. Shags (kawau) feature in the story of the ‘Battle of the Birds’.

The kawau had an argument with the fantail (tīwaiwaka) about whether seabirds or land birds had better food. The tīwaiwaka was so clever in his argument that the kawau led the seabirds in an attempt to take over the territory of the land birds. But when they went to the owl (ruru) to ask him when the battle should start, he said, ‘Apōpō’ (tomorrow). He repeated this every time they went back to ask him, so the battle never began. The land birds kept their resources, while the seabirds stayed where they are today.

Listen to Ruka Broughton of Ngā Rauru tell the story.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (Ruka Broughton – He korero mo nga mano/Reference number DAT420)

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10038549
Photograph by Graeme A. Taylor

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How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'Te Ao Mārama – the natural world - An interconnected world', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/speech/7954/the-battle-of-the-birds (accessed 24 February 2020)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 24 Sep 2007