Traditional Food Gathering - Te Kohinga Kai 

Tawhiti makamaka (portable rat trap) 19th century, Maker unknown, New Zealand. Te Papa
Tawhiti makamaka (portable rat trap) 19th century, Maker unknown, New Zealand. Te Papa

Māori have always been noted for their innovation and inventiveness. Before the arrival of metal tools and the gun, Māori made the tools or implements they needed for hunting, fishing, eeling, and cultivating crops from the natural resources of their environment – the bush, the mountains, the lakes, rivers, and ocean that were a part of their everyday life.

Those resources included various types of wood for making waka kererū (wood pigeon snares) and paepae kiore (rat snares) and gardening tools. Various bird and whale bones were used for making matau (fishhooks) and spear points. The bark of trees such as mānuka formed part of a snare. Harakeke (New Zealand flax) was used for bindings and ropes or cord for fishing lines and nets. Hīnaki (eel pots) and taruke (crayfish pots) were made out of aka (supplejack).

Māori were always able to repair or remake their tools or implements, when necessary, as they were surrounded by so many natural resources. Homage was paid to the various gods and goddesses before, during, and after making tools, and during the food gathering processes. Māori also adhered strongly to the maramataka Māori (Māori seasonal calendar) which they used as a guide for times to fish, go eeling, hunt, and plant.

When metal tools and the gun arrived, many traditional food gathering methods and tools changed. However, there has been a major revival of traditional food gathering methods over the past 30 or so years, and many books have been written about these methods.

Watch this Tales from Te Papa video about Te Takinga Pataka (food storage house).