Haka and the Birds

The origins of New Zealand’s Ka Mate haka are traced and birds discovered by the Telegraph’s Sue Attwood who travels to Kapiti Island, the composer Te Rauparaha’s stronghold in the mid-1800s. Hunted by a rival tribe, Te Rauparaha took refuge in a kumera pit near Tongariro, south of Lake Taupo. A wife of the local chief, wearing a voluminous cloak, squatted over the pit until his pursuers had gone. Te Rauparaha then emerged from the pit performing the Ka Mate haka in celebration of his reprieve. Kapiti Island is New Zealand as it was a hundred years ago. There are only about 250 of takahe left in the world, but on Kapiti they graze like contented prehistoric chickens. There are also saddlebacks, stitchbirds, kaka, kokako, weka: the winding paths to the top of the island are thick with birds. Te Rauparaha died in 1849 and was buried at Otaki on the mainland. There’s a rumour, though, that his remains were exhumed and taken across to Kapiti. Attwood asks Kapiti resident John Barrett if he knew where his grave was but he wouldn’t say. “If I told you,” Barrett said, “I’d have to kill you.”

 


Tags: Haka  John Barrett  Kapiti Island  NZ native birds  Sue Attwood  Takah?  Te Rauparaha  Telegraph (The)  Tongariro  

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