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Eels at Wairewa

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

These eels have been hung out to dry at Wairewa (Lake Forsyth). Wairewa was an important source of eels for South Island Māori. Eels were caught in hīnaki (eel pots), or by using a bob made of noke waiū (big white worms), split flax and rushes (wīwī). Listen to Riki Ellison from the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Living in a bush camp

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Living conditions in a typical bush camp were crowded. Often a gang of men slept and ate in one large hut. Around the edge were two tiers of bunks, while a large table dominated the centre of the room. As well as being used for meals, it was a place to play cards, read, write letters and talk.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Winter stars

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

To some tribes the new year in mid-winter was signalled by the dawn rising of Matariki (the Pleiades), while to others it was the rising of Puanga (Rigel). Takurua (Sirius) was also associated with winter. Along with other stars, Matariki, Puanga, and Tautoru (Orion's Belt) were important in the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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South Island pied oystercatcher with eggs

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This South Island pied oystercatcher is nesting in the Cass valley, a typical stony riverbed of inland Canterbury’s Southern Alps. The nest consists of a shallow scrape, and the eggs are well camouflaged. This makes them inconspicuous to predatory birds, but vulnerable to careless crushing ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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A lament

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This lament, ‘E pā tō hau’, was composed by Rangiamoa for her cousin Te Wano of Ngāti Apakura and Waikato. Like many such songs, it compares the tears of those mourning to rain falling from the sky. This extract includes the reference to rain.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Cicada song

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Listen to the song of the cicada or kihikihi, which conjures up images of hot summer days. The cicada and cricket were described as the song birds of the ‘summer’ star Rehua (Antares), because their song heralded the arrival of warmer weather. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Home-grown wind and solar power

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Photographed in 1984, Frank Cresswell of Petone was heading for energy self-sufficiency, using a variety of methods to harness Mother Nature’s energy in his back yard. His solar panels heated water to 80°C in summer and 50°C in winter, and the ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Te Hoata and Te Pupu bring fire

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

When Ngātoroirangi had just arrived in New Zealand from Hawaiki, he was overcome by extreme cold at a place called Onetapu. He called out to his sisters Te Hoata and Te Pupu, who sped to him from Hawaiki in the form of fire. When they emerged above ground they created the geysers, hot pools and ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Baited longlines

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In longline fishing, very long lines are strung with many baited hooks and drawn through the water. Malcolm Harrison, an Auckland longline fisherman, talks about landing snapper and gurnard in the late 1950s. Sound file from Radio New...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Fishing boats, Milford Sound

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

A few commercial fishermen operate out of Milford Sound, where their main catches are blue cod, crayfish and pāua (abalone). It is a harsh environment to work in. In this sound clip, a local fisherman describes conditions at the mouth of a fiord after heavy rain. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Coromandel Harbour, 1852

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

When gold was discovered on the Coromandel Peninsula in 1852, Europeans met with Māori to discuss mining and prospecting their lands. In this 1940s interview John Edgar (born in 1874) talks about Māori attitudes towards mining. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Recalling the Hawke’s Bay earthquake

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Jean Martin was working as a housekeeper in Napier when the 1931 earthquake struck. She remembers the motion of the earthquake, and describes the scene outside. This photograph shows dramatic wreckage on a Napier road. Sound file: Jean Martin, interview by Helen McConnochie for ‘...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Mynah

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The aggressive mynah was introduced to New Zealand from Asia. Its colouring is very distinctive – it has a black head, yellow beak and patch around the eye, and a cinnamon-brown body.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Skylark feeding chicks

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The trill of the skylark is a common sound in open areas of New Zealand, such as dunes or tussock grasslands. The female skylark builds the nest, but both parents feed the young. This adult skylark – at Birdlings Flat, Banks Peninsula – has a raised ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Male house sparrow

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Despite its small size, the house sparrow is probably the worst bird pest from a farmer’s perspective. Its short bill is adapted for eating seeds, and in New Zealand it feeds on grain crops such as wheat, barley and maize. The male has a distinctive ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Kākāpō

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

New Zealand’s most unusual parrot is the nocturnal, flightless, vegetarian kākāpō. It is the heaviest parrot in the world. Males weigh 2 kilograms on average, but can reach 4 kilos. The females average 1.5 kilos. This male is feeding on the berries of a low-growing poroporo bush. But kā...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Tūī

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

New Zealand has relatively few native passerines (perching birds) compared to other regions. But one is well known – the tūī, a beautiful songster. The tūī and bellbird are related to Australian honeyeaters. Their ancestors probably flew or were blown across the Tasman Sea, and then ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Kōkako pair

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Kōkako belong to the Callaeatidae family, which has no close relatives. This family also includes the saddleback and huia. Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Feather cloak

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

This kahu huruhuru (feather cloak), made in the late 19th century, uses the feathers of kererū (wood pigeons) and kākā. The red kākā feathers were valued for their beauty, and because red was associated with chiefs. Listen to the call of the kākā. Sound file from

Ministry for Culture and Heritage
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Collecting toheroa

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The large, sand-burrowing shellfish known as toheroa made such good eating (usually as a soup) that New Zealanders consumed them faster than the species could breed. From 1932 until 1993 the government imposed restrictions on harvesting, but these measures were not enough to halt the decline. ...

Ministry for Culture and Heritage