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 book cover

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

Pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo

shining cuckoo

Maori  welcomed the ’wharauroa as a harbinger. Ka tangi te wharauroa, ko nga karere a Mahuru, says the proverb; “If the shining cuckoo cries it is the messenger of Spring”.

On first hearing the welcome cry, the children greeted the bird with the following song: —

E manu tena koe. Kua tae tenei ki te mahanatanga. Kua puawai nga rakau katoa.
Kua pa te kakara ki te ihu o te tangata. Kua puta ano koe ki runga, tioro ai.
Tioro it te whitu, tioro i te waru.
Me tioro haere ano ke koe tenei kupu e whai ake nei, te marae o tama ma, o hine ma:

Kui Kui Kui, whiti whit ora.

O bird, greeting to you. The warm season appears and all trees have blossomed.
The frangrance reaches the nostrils of man. You again appear trilling on high.
Trilling in the seventh(month), trilling in the eighth(month).
Trill you ever forth as you fly the following message to the homes of lads and lasses:

Kui Kui Kui, whiti whit ora.

It was known as the “bird of Hawaiki” and it has been thought possible that the migratory flight of the cuckoo encouraged Maori to come to New Zealand.


One of the favourite landing places is said by Maori to be the Manganui Bluff, 25 miles south of Hokianga, towards the extreme north of the North Island, where the birds may be seen in numbers after their arrival, generally in a state of exhaustion. The bird is said to carry in its claws a small pebble, usually white, which it licks during flight when thirsty.


As to the mystery of how the cuckoo places its egg in the nest of its host, “the Maori has frequently seen the ’wharauroa at this work. For about eight months in the year the Maori roamed the bush weekly and even daily — for bird, berry and root foods. He saw the ’wharauroa select its nest and proceed, sometimes, to toss out the true eggs, with its bill. It sometimes crushed them in doing so, and sometimes ate them. It laid its own egg either on a stump, the barrel of a prone tree, or on the leafy ground. It then took the egg, at times in its bill and at times in its claws, — and put it into the nest. It worked silently and quickly, and sometimes remained concealed in the vicinity as if to see what the riroriro might do with its egg.”


NOTE: For additional information about Pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, use this link to go directly to the  Pipiwharauroa page  listed in nzbirds gallery.

shining cuckoo
Sub Species:

Song of: —  Pipiwharauroa, the shinning cuckoo

 Viking Sevenseas

Other common names:  — 

Description:  — 

Native bird

16 cm., 25 g., metallic bronze green, barred dark green on white face and underparts.

Where to find:  — 

Widespread and quite common.

More Information: — 

»»»  Pipiwharauroa, the shinning cockoo
       (on the NZ bird gallery page)

Poetry:  — 

Te manu i whiti mai
I tarawaahi
Me to o ano ki te wae mau ai,
Nau mai.

The shining cuckoo
The bird that has crossed hither
From beyond the sea
With the O carried in its foot,

Illustration description: — 


Buller, Walter Lawry, Birds of New Zealand, 1888.

Latham, John, General Synopsis of Birds, 1795.

Reference(s): — 


Andersen, J.C., New Zealand Song Birds, 1926.

Page date & version: — 


Tuesday, 16 July 2019; ver2009v1