Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 43, 1910
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Takahe (Notornis), Moa (Dinornis), and Pou-a-Hawaiki.

It is said that the Maoris hunted an d caught the Notornis at the head-waters of the Rakaia, and that the last of them were seen there. When questioned on this point the natives could give no reply. They said that the takahe was large enough to kick the dogs. It was caught with a forked stick, with which its legs were pinned to the ground. It was not 10 ft. high, as the questioner suggested, for then, said Jacob, it would have been large enough to kick a man—it would, in fact, be a moa.

Although split and charred moa-bones have been found in the middens on the West Coast, the natives could tell nothing about the bird. They had, however, a story about a great bird which they called Pouahawaiki. This may have been the bird known to other Maoris as Pouaki. “Pouahawaiki” may perhaps be an expansion of “Pouaki,” arising from a mistake as to its derivation. “Pou-a-Hawaiki” means “Pou from Hawaiki.” Now, it will be remembered that a mythological character named Pou journeyed to New Zealand from Hawaiki on the back of a great bird. A confusion may thus have arisen between the two stories. But, whatever the derivation of the name may be, I have little doubt that the story is an old one, and has at least a kernel of truth, and that referring to the great eagle (Harpagornis), bones of which are to be seen in the Dominion Museum.

The natives said that once, a long time ago, some of the Maoris who went hunting or fishing failed to come home. Then, when their fellow-tribesmen watched, they saw an immense bird take up a man and carry him away to a hill-top. A Maori named Pukirehu fastened a dog's skin on a stick near a lagoon, and lay beside it in the water with only his head above the surface. He had armed himself with a long spear. The Pouahawaiki flew towards the skin, but when it saw Pukirehu's head it swooped down and attacked him with its wings. Then ‘Rehu drove his spear hard at its wing. Again it came at him, and this time he made

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a mighty thrust into its body, and it fell dead in the water. Then its mate flew down, only to be killed in the same way. Now Pukirehu climbed up to the eyrie, where he found the bones of many men who had been killed by the Pouahawaiki. He also found and killed two chicks, one of which was just ready to fly