Maybe the way to stop the poaching of kereru is to permit sales of fried pigeon and chips

Put it on the KFC menu and it might be saved.

Oh dear. It looks like native wood pigeons are as doomed as the moa, at least in some parts of the country.

And for much the same reason. They make good tucker (or at least, that’s what Alf is told, although he has never eaten pigeon pie, or pigeon kai, or any other pigeon-based dishes).

In the Far North, some people obviously are tucking in, even though the bird is supposed to be legally protected.

The consequences are reported in the Sunday Star-Times here.

Maori poachers hunting wood pigeons to the verge of extinction in the north are refusing to listen to pleas to stop from their community.

And –

The birds are in decline in Northland, where hapu mumbers say they have found evidence of illegal hunting.

This is bad news for the environment, because the wood pigeons play a crucial role in protecting the forest, with trees such as the karaka, taraire, tawa and miro depending on them to carry their seeds to new areas.

It looks like history is repeating itself.

The moa became extinct because –

Maori people are known to have killed large numbers of birds for their meat, eggs and feathers — moa is a Polynesian word for chicken — after they arrived on the islands about 1,000 years ago. All the nine living species were gone within a few centuries.

Fair to say, some Maori leaders seem to be unhappy with the poachers.

Iwi say despite their determination to stamp out the hunting themselves, they may have to prosecute some of their own if their message goes unheeded.

The SST explains that the wood pigeons, known as kereru in most of the country but as kukupa in the north, were traditionally killed for their meat and feathers.

Nowadays they are “protected” by the law.

The maximum penalty for hunting or killing the birds is a $100,000 fine or six months in jail.

But this legal protection obviously is a joke and the law is being flouted.

Northland Conservation Board chair Mita Harris accordingly has pleaded with hunters to stop killing the birds before they are wiped out.

“I humbly put it to members of our many hapu in Taitokerau to ask before the urge takes over: Are we selfish? Are we thinking enough of those to come?” he said.

Harris said he was “staggered” to hear the same names coming up of people who were making an annual trip to take the birds.

“They’re choosing to ignore the signs and the advice people give them – the signs that they’re not seeing a lot of these birds in the bush.”

Harris said as kaitiaki, or guardians, the community and hapu were trying hard to protect the birds.

Because of the kaitiaki role, Harris said the hapu wanted to deal with the poaching within the community through education, before taking a hardline approach, but because the birds were protected, going to court was an option.

We hear lots about this kaitiaki thing, and about kaitiakitanga.

Thanks to the the rediscovery of kaitiakitanga, Māori communities are said to be reconstructing and expressing traditional knowledge in their tribal areas.

An item headed Kaitiakitanga – protecting New Zealand can be found here where you will be told all about it.

Kaitiakitanga is the buzz word in New Zealand tourism.

This ancient word describes a traditional concept or guiding principle in Maori culture that’s as relevant today as it was centuries ago.

In kaitiakitanga, humans are the guardians of the world who assist the gods and ancestral spirits to preserve and protect the physical environment, as well as cultural elements such as art and language.

In modern terms, kaitiakitanga is a holistic philosophy that aims to deliver the planet to future generations with its mana / status intact.

This article gives us some important definitions.

Kaitiakitanga: Guardianship, protection, preservation or sheltering. Managing the environment, based on the traditional Māori world view.

Māori world view: Māori believe there is a deep kinship between humans and the natural world. All life is connected, and people are not superior to the natural order but they are part of it. Like some other indigenous cultures, Māori see humans as part of the web or fabric of life. To understand the world, one must understand the relationships between different parts of the web. Kaitiakitanga is a vehicle for rediscovering and applying these ideas.

Kaitiaki: A kaitiaki is a person or group that is recognised as a guardian by the tangata whenua (local tribal group with authority). For instance, a hapū (sub-tribe) may be the kaitiaki for a lake or a forest. Interest in kaitiakitanga is growing today. Maori tribes are working to respond to environmental problems, and to renew their own knowledge, culture and experience.

Environmental impact: All human societies, including Māori, affect the environment they live in. Before Europeans arrived, Māori hunted the moa (giant flightless bird) to extinction, and burnt large areas of forest. They had a negative impact on the environment in other ways too. However, Europeans also had a serious impact on native plants, animals, land and sea after they settled in New Zealand, eg large areas of forest were felled to make way for farming.

According to the article, customary practices maintained the balance between communities and nature.

For activities such as hunting birds, gardening and fishing, this ensured that resources were managed sustainably.

Practices included banning recreational fishing and birding and harvesting only what was needed.

They also included laying mauri (life force) stones in gardens.

A tohunga would say a karakia over the stone, which was believed to protect resources.

Obviously that’s the answer.

We must festoon the forests with mauri stones and bring in armies of tohunga to protect the pigeons with chants.

Mind you, customary practices didn’t stop the moa going the same way as the dodo.

Alf is more inclined to encourage the Kentucky Fried crowd to put kereru and fries on its menu and to generally make the meat available to anyone who wants to tuck in.

The need for ample supplies would result in the bird being farmed.

And shazam – its future would be assured.

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