Eel-baskets, or hinaki, as they are called, are of several shapes, sizes, and patterns. They are hard or flexible, regular in construction, and as a rule cone-shaped. They are small at each end, bulging out in the middle,
and are usually from 5 ft. to 6 ft. long and 18 in. to 2 ft. 6 in. in diameter at the widest part. One end is secured tight by a lid; the other returns inwards by a neat curve as a funnel, and finishes with an opening 3 in. or so in diameter about 1 ft. or 18 in. down the net. Hinaki were formerly chiefly constructed of serial roots of kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii) steeped in water till pliable, and were light, strong, and flexible; but I am informed that the akatea vine (Metrosideros albiflora) and aka tororaro gave the best results both as regards strength and lasting qualities. The pohue vine (Calystegia sepium) was also used in the construction of the hinaki, but was called aka korewa when so used. Another vine, growing on stony plains, was also used for fine work and flexible springy baskets, but my informant was unable to remember the name. The kiekie, probably the most common, being the easiest to procure, was also the poorest, as even with care it only lasted from five to seven years. Sometimes in a pattern called pakipaki thin manuka was used for the long strips which were laced on to kareao hoops with small vines, but I have never seen a basket made in that manner, although I understand they were common. In these modern days kareao and sometimes even wire netting are easily obtained substitutes, and it seems to me that the days of the old-time hinaki are numbered. Indeed, as European ideas and methods are gradually growing into favour and practice with the Maori, the old systems of obtaining food are gradually falling into disuse. Twenty-five years ago pa-tuna were common enough in almost every river and stream on the west coast of the North Island; now there are only two in the Whanganui, practically the home of the pa-tuna, and I do not think that farther south even one will be found.
For the hinaki that was used for setting at pa-tuna the trap, or return part, was woven separately and laced on the hinaki afterwards, giving a continuation of the poha lead. Otherwise it was made in one piece. Sometimes for the bait-setting traps loose ends of vine ran together at the inner end of the net funnel, through which the eels could easily push their way but which securely blocked egress. The common shape was called titika. It was used entirely for catching tuna-toke with bait. In this as in the other shapes all the enlarging or reducing was done by adding or dropping strands. Hinaki herehere (fig. 9, a) was another style of trap used for baiting only. The bottle shape with parallel sides bulging at one end was called pae, sometimes tatairangi (fig. 9, b, and Plate XXVIII, figs. 1 and 2), and the large-mouthed hinaki for placing in the pa-tuna was called whakapuwai, and by some waharoa and aranui (fig. 9, c). This hinaki had usually a lid for both ends to hold eels if used as a storing-basket.
Puhara and puwai were baskets made without a trap end, used for keeping eels alive in the water.
A similar basket for holding live lamprey was called korotete. Occasionally these baskets were protected by vine rings tied on outside. A very fine specimen photographed by the writer, lying under a whata tapu (tapu storehouse) at Tawhata, about 120 miles up the Whanganui River, is manufactured in this manner (Plate XXVIII, fig. 3).
Hinaki-pitau, a very small trap of the hinaki pattern used for catching whitebait, was very closely woven of a thin vine called kaii.* Another net for catching whitebait was called hauwai. It was in shape something like a huge scoop without the handle, and is now obsolete. As a boy I saw one of these used by a woman in the Rangitikei River, but that is the only one I have ever seen. It was made of a rush which I regret to say. I have lost the name of. In the Whanganui district the whitebait is called karohe when the shoals first go up-stream in the spring.
[Footnote] * The long, slender, and flexuous branches of the young plants of matai (Podocarpus spicatus), which young trees are called kai and mai by natives, were used in the manufacture of eel-pots. Possibly this is the material alluded to.