Story: Te tāhere manu – bird catching

Forest mauri

A letter from Ngāti Raukawa elder Tāmati Ranapiri to ethnographer Elsdon Best in 1895 explained how a tohunga (priest) would place a talisman in the forest to protect its mauri (life force):

The mauri is a charm that is said over something, like a stone or a tree, which the priest believes is an appropriate receptacle or seat for the mauri (life force). ... It is put in an inaccessible place in the forest, and left there.

Tāmati Ranapiri, Letter to Elsdon Best. MS Papers 1187–127, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Polynesian Society Collection
Reference: MS-Papers-1187-127

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Te tāhere manu – bird catching - Spiritual aspects', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 June 2024)

Story by Basil Keane, published 24 Sep 2007