He Kuaka


For the Ngati Kahungunu people of Ahuriri and the Heretaunga the kuaka has been in the area forever. In this tradition it is referred to on the marae as Te Manu Hawaiki, the Hawaiki bird or the wairua bird. It has an inter-terrestrial and celestial connection.

It is said to bring korero back from Hawaiki to Aotearoa when it arrives in spring, and to take news back to Hawaiki when it leaves in autumn.

It is a special bird, but it is not a deity. Actually it is an ordinary looking bird, small and plain, but it does extraordinary things. We should study it and celebrate it.

When the kuaka took flight to the north it signalled conditions conducive for a return to the Pacific. It is a great tradition. So there is a certain mystique, and reverence for this ordinary bird that does extraordinary things. We should normalise stories these stories. They are aspirational.

The kuaka is a good device or metaphor because it crosses into environmental issues, issues of flora and fauna, and then links us through people connections. In overcoming the huge obstacles it faces, and being buffeted by adverse winds and conditions. We need to rediscover these things, revive that travel, and take these routes ourselves.