The Bird Talker: Te Pūkōrero Manu

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Jack Roberts
In Print

The story of Turi, The Bird Talker, takes us to a time before European occupation of Aotearoa, where order and tradition dictates a life of learning for the young tohunga-tā-manu, Turi, a peaceful time punctuated by the violence and tragedy of intertribal conflict.

Set in the village of Takapau, a site that existed that has long since been lost to the sea in Wainui Bay in the beautiful northwest of Te Waipounamu (the South Island), an area known as Mohua in pre-European times. It describes a landscape filled with some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet. Cloaked in great forests that had been millions of years in the creation, it was filled with a rich bounty of birds which Turi through his great friend and mentor Tawhiri, would trap and supply to his Ngati Whērangi people of the Takapau hapū.

A well-researched must-read for anybody remotely interested in the ancient history of Aotearoa, it is a story that brings into focus the structured order of life of the early people of this land, a story that is guaranteed to provoke thought and challenge modern perceptions.