New Zealand Birds’
(The Greytown Gallery)

65 Wood Street
Post Office Box 146
Greytown, 5742
New Zealand

Mobile: +64 (0)27 508 5078 [email protected]

Historical fantasy

Available from Amazon Te Tini o Toi cover

Te Tini o Toi, The Children of Toi, (book one), by Narena Olliver



As reported  in the Transactions of the NZ Institute, 1889, “the Korotangi” is the name given to a stone bird said by the Maori(s) to have been brought from Hawaiki by them in their canoe Tainui. The bird measures 10.25 inches (26.5 cms) from point of beak to tip of tail. The right half of the tail is broken. It is carved out of a very dark green serpentine. The bird carved in a bold and careful way and in a natural position, seems to represent, at first glance, a species of Prion, the beak being so very much depressed; but on closer examination it will be seen that it does not possess the united nasal tubes placed on the top of the bill, but has the nostrils lateral near the base of the beak, as in ducks.


“The Maori(s) assert that they brought the Korotangi with from Haiwaiki, and that it came in the canoe called Tainui which first landed on the east coast; but it was dragged over the Tamaki portage into Manukau, thence navigated to Aotea, on the west coast, between Raglan and Kawhia.


“It is a curious fact that the Korotangi was found in a rua, or hole, in which was growing a large kahikatoe tree (manuka), very old. The tree had been blown down, and the bird was found in the roots by a Maori. ... an old chieftainess saw it, and on hearing where it was discovered she bowed herself and then sang the song relating to it. This song is known in all parts of the country. The knowledge of it having been found caused much excitement amongst the natives. Tawhiao, the Maori King, came to see it, and Rewi took it away with him, and rose several times through the night to tangi, or cry, over it.


“We now give the song relating to the Korotangi in Maori, and a translation by C.O. Davis.”

—  NOTE:  In 1995 the korotangi was returned to the Tainui people as part of the government settlement of their claims under the treaty of Waitangi.

Poetry:  — 

Kaore te aroha
Ki taku nei manu,
Titoki tonu ake,
I te ahiahi
Ka tomo ki te whare,
Taku ate noa ai
He rangi au ka tatari,
Apopo (akuanei)
Awhea ano te hiki mai ai?
Kei hea Korotangi
Ka ngaro nei?
Tena ka riro kei te katokato,
I te rau powhata.
Nga whakataine
Tu mai ko te Po ko te Ao,
Ka oho au, tirohia
Nga parera e tere ake na;
Ehara anake
He parera Maori
Waiho me titiro
Ki te huruhuru,
Whakairoiro mai,
No tawhiti, e waiho
Ana koe hei tiaki-hanga,
Hei korero taua
Ki tona taumata.
I puea koe,
I te huahua,
Koewaewa wai
Ki Rotorua
E ai te ui ake
Ki a Kawatepuarangi.

Keen is the sorrow, O my bird, for thee!
And, when the evening closes in, I look
Around in vain for thee, then turn
Into my dwelling. Oh! the pang
Of heart I feel when there! I wait the live-long day
In restlessness; I wait another day,
And morrow comes! When, when wilt thou return
To me? Where is Korotangi absent?
Ah, how long he has gone to feast on leaves
Of kale! - gone, gone to his amusements.
I wake when time divides in twain the day
And night. My daughters look ye on the ducks
Down in the distance floating. Ah! these are
Not like him; that is the common bird.
Let us gaze upon the feathers carved
In lands remote. Ah! thou wert rudely thrust
From fish preserved in unrich fluid
Taken from Rotorua's lake. Thou wert
The guardian of our treasures, and the theme
Of many conversations on many heights
Of numerous village homes. Now what remains?
We'll ask for thee of Kawatepuarangi.

Illustration description: — 


National Museum, 1973

Reference(s): — 


Transactions of the NZ Institute, 1881, 14: 104., 1889, 22: 500., 522-527;

Christine MacKay, Korotangi, the Egnimatic Stone Bird, Dominion Musem Records in Ethnology, Volume 2, No. 10, 1973.

Page date & version: — 


Tuesday, 16 July, 2019; ver2009v1