Volume 56 1947 > Volume 56, No. 4 > The Maori method of taking grey duck and black teal near Taupo, by W. J. Phillipps, p 333-335
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- 333
Paper read at the Sixth Science Congress of the Royal Society of N.Z., Wellington, May 1947.

GREY duck and black teal were two of the most common water-birds to be found on swamps, lakes and streams in most parts of the North Island. It is rather surprising that comparatively little has been recorded on the Maori methods adopted in taking them. The following are a number of recorded accounts:

Tamati Ranapiri, J.P.S., Vol. 1, p. 143, 1895, states: “There are two methods of taking the wild duck (parera-maori)—by the snare, and hunting with dogs. If a place is found by the fowler which the duck much frequent in a stream or other place that they come to or where their food is, snares are made in such places. Should it be a river, the snares are made to reach from side to side, that is, in moderately sized streams; if it be a place where they feed, the snares are placed all round to enclose the feeding place, and in such other places as the fowler finds to be suitable. That is all in reference to that system of taking the duck.”

In Tikao Talks, p. 133, 1939, grey duck and black teal are mentioned among other birds as being rounded up and killed when moulting on Lake Ellesmere. In the above work, the author, H. Beattie, also mentions the kaha as “a snare with a number of nooses (karu-mahanga) set beside water to catch several kinds of birds.”

Best, in “Forest Lore of the Maori,” Dominion Museum Bulletin, No. 14, p. 410, 1942, states that the parent, or grey duck, was formerly exceedingly numerous in some districts, and makes mention (p. 411) of a South Island account of “many slip-nooses secured to a sustaining cord that was set up in the streams and lagoons; when so arranged in streams, stakes were driven in on either side of the stream, and the cord supporting the snares was tied by one end to a stake, pulled taut, and secured to the stake on the other - 334 side of the stream and so left. At night the water-fowl would come swimming along, and on reaching the row of suspended snares would be caught by the neck; possibly 20 birds would come floating along and be caught.” On p. 413, Best terms the cords for suspending slip-nooses by the names tāhū and kaha. Williams gives naha as “a noose for snaring ducks.”

In January, 1947, I was in Taupo and was enabled to visit Mr. Tupara Maniapoto, Hinerau hapu of the Tuwharetoa tribe, and elder of the Nukuhau pa, Taupo. Before the imposition of protection on native birds Mr. Maniapoto had constructed large numbers of snares and had often seen more than 100 grey duck taken in a single day. That his hand has lost nothing of its former dexterity was shown by Mr. Maniapoto when in a matter of seconds he constructed a fowling knot, an analysis of which is supplied with this article. The story of how the Taupo Maoris secured grey duck and black teal as told me by Mr. Maniapoto is as follows:—

In January and February each year the various hapu of Tuwharetoa were accustomed to journey in groups to the neighbourhood of swamps in the vicinity of Taupo. These regions were chiefly the swamps around Lake Roto-kaua, and the swamps of the lower Waikato river between the Aratiatia rapids and the Waimahana bridge. After observing the numbers of teal and ducks, snares were erected in rows projecting from the swamp into the lake or river, rows of snares being usually about five yards long. Posts were driven into the soft ground at intervals and a cord called tauhuhu stretched taut between them a little above the water-line. A series of snares called whakahei were then set on the surface of the water attached above to the tauhuhu. Until required for use both grey duck and teal were preserved in cylindrical bark containers in which pigeons were also preserved.

There was nothing tapu relating to the snaring process, but the first pigeon caught was cooked and given to one of the females of the elder (of the tribe) to eat. Then all could eat. Grey duck in the flapper stage were taken in large numbers. These were called turuki. Mr. Maniapoto also carefully demonstrated the fowling knot for us and supplied samples for the Dominion Museum.

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A weft of flax D E is taken and bent as in loop A. Loop B is constructed by bringing the end E over the lower part of loop A and continuing over the blade near D. The end E is turned upward behind the blade near D, and passes at the back of the lower margin of loop B, continuing over the outside right-hand loop edges of B and A to the exterior. E is again bent inward behind the margins of loops A and B, when it turns again outward to the exterior. Any pressure exerted thereafter on loop A only serves to tighten this knot which, Mr. Maniapoto assures me, is the correct knot to use in all fowling operations including the whaka kereru snares.

In connection with the above 1 wish to express my appreciation of the help afforded me by Mr. G. G. Potts, ranger for the Department of Internal Affairs, Taupo, and by Miss M. E. Stephenson for drawing the analysis of Mr. Tupara Maniapoto's knot.