(1.) Bag-net for Crayfish (Pouraka).
Crayfish are very plentiful all along the East Coast and Bay of Plenty area. There are four methods of securing them. The commonest is by diving. A simple method is with the matire, a rod with a number of strands of flax looped over one end. In the midst of the strands is a bait of paua (Haliotis). The rod is thrust down into rocky crevices. The crayfish, attracted by the bait, gets its legs tangled in the strands and is drawn to the surface. A third method is by baited crayfish-pots made of thin manuka rods. These traps are called taruke, and are set on the sea-bottom, whilst a long rope with wooden floats marks the spot.
The fourth method is by means of the bag-net termed pouraka. In the East Coast-Bay of Plenty area pouraka refers solely to this kind of trap. In Lake Taupo a pouraka is a netted trap, set like a taruke, and used for catching kokopu (Galaxias brevipinnis). At Maketu and on the Waikato coast the pouraka is similar in make to that of Lake Taupo, but is used to catch aua (Agonostoma forsteri). The crayfish-pouraka consists of a net, hoop, handle, sinkers, bait-support, and line (Plate 107, fig. 1).
The net is made of flaxen strips. Thirty-one meshes are put on the supporting-strand, by any one of the three direct mesh-commencements. The thirty-second mesh is added when the sides are closed. The depth is carried down to ten rows of meshes, additional meshes being added. The sides and bottom are closed as already described.
The hoop for the mouth of the net (whiti, or potaka) is of supplejack. With the Ngati-Porou the supplejack is threaded through the marginal meshes, the ends overlapped, and lashed together. Roughly, the hoop was 36 in. or more in diameter. With the Whanau-Apanui the bag-net is attached to the hoop by a chain-knot of fibre-cord, which is looped twice round the hoop and each circumferential mesh, as shown in fig. 42.
The handle is made of split supplejack, which forms an arch over the hoop. The ends are attached to opposite points of the hoop by doubling
the ends round the hoop with a 6 in. or 7 in. overlap and lashing together as in fig. 43. Another strip of supplejack may be attached in a similar manner at right angles to the first, and an additional lashing made where the two handles cross at the top of the arch. This arched handle is called a pewa.
In some nets I saw at Opape, in the Bay of Plenty, a single handle was used, but these were stayed with two sets of a two-ply twisted cord of undressed flax, as shown in fig. 44. The handle also had two cords of a similar nature stretched across from side to side at the levels of the two sets of side stays, as shown in fig. 43. These are tied to the handle below the side stays so as to prevent their slipping up on the handle. In this last type the bait is attached to the middle of the lower cord. In the double handle there is no need for these two cords. A special cord for the bait is therefore stretched across the circumference of the hoop from the bases of one of the handles. The bait-cord is called the pae mounu. In some cases a special bait-rest is made by tying a short piece of stick at right angles to the middle of the bait-cord to form a cross. A strip of flax about ¼ in. wide is then wrapped successively round each arm of the cross so as to overlap, as in a fly-flap. * To this a piece of thin flax is attached to tie on the bait, which is laid on the lozenge-shaped bait-rest. This bait-tie is called the tau-mounu. Sinkers (punga) of stone are attached on the outer side of the circumferential hoop at the handle-junctions,
Fig. 43.—Pouraka handle: a, handle; b, cross-section of hoop; c, handle-stays.
Fig. 44.—Pouraka handle: a, handle; b, hoop; c, side stays.
care being taken to select stones of even weight so as to maintain the balance. In these days a piece of cloth is often wrapped round the stones to prevent their slipping. In ancient days grooves were chipped on the stones, or they were enclosed in a small net to serve a similar purpose. A line or fine rope of sufficient length was attached to the handle or the crossing of the two.
An ingenious thought was the attachment of a thin strip of flax from the bait-rest to the lower end of the line where it was attached to the handle. When the baited trap rested on the bottom of the sea, the tugging of the crayfish at the bait was clearly transmitted along this cord to the line and the fisherman above. It was therefore called “te tau whakarongo”—the feeling-string.
Method of Use.—The pouraka is baited usually with paua (Haliotis), or any kind of fish. In these days meat may be used. In the night-time
[Footnote] * Te Rangi Hiroa, Maori Plaited Basketry and Plaitwork, Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 55, p. 356, 1924.
the nets may be set in the shallow water near the reefs, at low water, or just when the tide is coming in. When baited the net is simply lowered into the water at the selected spot, and the sinkers take it to the bottom. If the line is held, the pulling of a crayfish at the bait is transmitted up the feeling-string to the line, and distinctly felt. On hauling up, the crayfish drop down into the net. It is usual, however, to set a number of nets and tie the ropes to rocks or points on the reef. When the last is set the fisherman starts at the first and lifts them up. They are reset when the contents are removed. By the time he has completed his task it is time to start on his round again. Half a dozen nets is a convenient number to keep one man employed.
In deep water the nets may be set in the daytime. A raft (mokihi) made of the light houama (Entelea arborescens) is used. Floats (poito) of the same wood are tied with a clove hitch to the end of the rope when the net reaches the bottom. A number are set, and the fisherman paddles round on the raft, picking them up in turn. When crayfish are plentiful, ten or twelve are caught in one net at a haul.