Introduction

The manu huruhuru (native bird skinning) workshop in Kororareka/Russell provided the opportunity for people to show their natural affection for New Zealand in a practical hands-on way - this year’s Conservation Week theme.

More than 20 people from across Northland attended a joint Kororareka Marae Society/Department of Conservation (DOC) manu huruhuru (native bird skinning) workshop in Kororareka/Russell recently. The workshop provided the opportunity for people to show their natural affection for New Zealand in a practical hands-on way - this year’s Conservation Week theme.

Workshop attendees came from Whangarei, the Hokianga, the northern Bay of Islands as well as Kororareka/Russell. Te Rawhiti Enterprises hosted the wānanga at their workshop in Matauwhi Bay, Russell.

Deb Harding (second on left) showing manu huruhuru attendees how to prepare native birds for pelting.
Deb Harding (second on left) showing
manu huruhuru attendees how to
prepare native birds for pelting

Led by tutor Deb Harding and assisted by David Mules (Programme Manager Community Relations, Bay of Islands DOC), the participants first honoured the birds with karakia and waiata then learnt how to skin and prepare the birds’ feathers for weaving into korowai (feather cloaks).

Wānanga participants worked on more than 40 native and non-native birds from the Russell Peninsula, including North Island brown kiwi, North Island weka, kūkupa, kotare (kingfisher), pukeko and korora (little penguin).

Helen Ough Dealy, Community Relations Ranger, Bay of Islands DOC says, “The kiwi and weka died being hit by cars; others such as the kukupa and kingfisher killed themselves by flying into windows.”

Feedback from the workshop

Sandra Thompson, a textile designer from Parekura Bay, Russell found the course very interesting. “I was very pleased I went to it and came away quite stimulated by what I had learnt. I found it fascinating that now when I see a dead bird I know how to help its feathers live forever rather than simply burying it in the ground.”

Alyssce Ranger from Whangarei, who works at Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust, also found it an enjoyable experience: “I had an awesome time. I can’t wait to do more!”

Veronica Kingi from Purerua Peninsula was thrilled with the course. “I tino pai tenei mahi! Ataahua!”

Maiki Marks, Kororareka Marae Society Chair says, “Participants who visited the korowai exhibition after the manu huruhuru workshop were full of praise for the skilful weavers who had produced the korowai on show.”

The Kororareka Marae Society’s korowai exhibition is on at Haratu Marae, the Strand, Russell until 31 October from 10 am – 4 pm every day.

Feather allocation process

Preparing the skins is the first part in the process. Deb Harding explains: “The skins can take up to two months to dry. Once they are ready, people wanting to weave with the feathers can apply for them through a cultural materials committee (Te Pātaka Kōmiti o Te Tai Tokerau). This committee comprises people with particular expertise in a range of traditional cultural practices/matauranga Māori.)”

Paula Wilson (Iwi Relations Officer, Northland Conservancy, DOC) explains the feather allocation process: “Manu (birds) are generally allocated to the local hapu first (in the region from where the manu is found), and if the hapu does not need them, then they are available to other applicants. The Pātaka Kōmiti hears applications for kiwi because of the rare and special status of the kiwi.”

Information about how to apply for cultural materials and a cultural materials application form are available from Bay of Islands Area Office, DOC, ph +64 9 407 0300.

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