Birds of Aotearoa : A natural and cultural history

Author(s): Margaret Orbell

Maud’s Picks | Maori | Natural History

To Maori, as in all traditional societies, birds have been a constant source of ideas and metaphors because of their power of flight, their songs, their beauty, and the great variation in their appearance and behaviour. The calls of some birds are believed to convey a message to listening humans, either a warning or a reassurance, and the feathers of many kinds of birds were greatly valued for their beauty, all the more so when they were rare or difficult to obtain. In Birds of Aotearoa, Margaret Orbell describes the early relationship existing in New Zealand between Maori and the extraordinary birds they found here. She provides scientific information, recounts traditions explaining the birds origins and natures, quotes from songs that they appear in, and shows us some of the beautiful items used by Maori that are prompted by the birds' existence. Birds of Aotearoa Margaret Orbell In this book, Margaret Orbell explores the representation of over 60 birds in Maoritanga. To Maori, as in all traditional societies, birds have been a constant source of ideas and metaphors because of their power of flight, their songs, their beauty, and the great variation in their appearance and behaviour. The call of some birds often small ones such as the fernbird or the grey warbler or riroriro, the robin or pitoitoi, the marsh crake or were believed to convey a message to listening humans, either a warning or a reassurance. The feathers of many kinds of birds were greatly valued for their beauty, all the more so when they were rare or difficult to obtain. Plumes of the huia, the white heron or kotuku, the albatross or toroa, and the gannet or takapu were especially treasured, being worn in the hair by people of rank. During the early nineteenth century feather cloaks were, it seems, seldom worn. Later again, in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth, feather cloaks, or kahu huruhuru, became newly popular, and soon were treasured heirlooms. Since sculpted figures possessed a life of their own, they too were adorned with plumes. Ancestral figures, whether in the palisades of a pa or forming part of the houses and tombs of rangatira, were hung with bunches and garlands of feathers; so too were the ancestral figures that formed part of the prow, sternpost and top strakes of large vessels. The carved heads of taiaha the weapons of rangatira had red feathers elaborately fastened around them. Many other treasured possessions were decorated with carefully chosen plumes. Format: 244 x 255 mm, portrait, b/w photographs and line drawings throughout 4 sections of 8 pages of colour First published 2003. Shortlisted for the 2004 NZ Montana Book awards, Environment section.

 


Product Information

Shortlisted for Montana Book Awards 2004.

General Fields

  • : 9780790009094
  • : Reed Books
  • : Reed Books
  • : November 2003
  • : 255mm X 255mm
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Margaret Orbell
  • : Paperback
  • : very good
  • : 198
  • : b&w photos, line drawings, 32 colour photos