mauri warrior with Kahu feather head plume

Kāhu in Māori Mythology

Maori & Birds of Prey / kahu in Maori Mythology

  • The Kahu is also commonly referred to in Maori mythology.

    bird of prey feathers - Kahu Harrier

    The kāhu (swamp harrier) appears in Māori mythology in the story of Māui. During this story the colour of the kāhu’s plumage is told to be the result of it having been scorched by the fire of Mahuika.

    A kāhu seen flying over a village during a tribal meeting was seen as a good sign, and the phrase "e hui o ngā kāhu" refers to a meeting of the Māori chiefs.

    Harriers were commonly caught in snare type traps known as ‘wiwia’ for their feathers. These traps were constructed from rushes and long grasses and the feathers were commonly used as head plumes known as 'piki kāhu' or for decorating traditional flax baskets known as 'kete'.

    māori warrior : Te Puia, NZ Maori Arts & Crafts Inc.
    photography : Auckland photographer AMG Photography