A Point to Ponder on Pidgeons for Political Provender



Right, so we’ve got another minor media flapping frenzy about people phaging pigeons.

Great. I’m so very glad that the preening peacocks of our political press are suddenly extra-keen on protecting periled pullastrines.

Except the real issue here isn’t that pigeons are being plucked for the purposes of being presented as provender for poltophagy by parorexic politicians.

Or, as some are breathlessly claiming, that Maori have special rights to kereru carcasses. That’s fine, and well within the bounds of the Wildlife Act.

The problem here, is that the birds in question were provided to the Marae which hosted the feast by DOC.

Which presents some fairly troubling concerns about what happened next.

DOC presumably wasn’t anticipating carcasses that had lain around in a freezer for x number of days or weeks would be offered up for human consumption; particularly given the possibility that the birds might have died from consuming poisoned bait or illness.

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In fact, their own statement on the subject makes it quite clear that even if there *had* been an application made for culinary use of the birds, it “would not support the consumption of dead birds handed into its offices for food safety reasons”.

Given the Ministers of the Crown in attendance that day who were served the potentially foul fowl – Amy Adams, Nathan Guy, and Tariana Turia – some might call this, all up, a missed opportunity.


  1. just reading today, turia is saying the birds should be available for elders due to cultural reasons,
    is that the argument ?
    the whole ‘traditional reasons’ or ‘cultural reasons’ idea has huge holes in it. there was a time it was a grey area for me and i tended to think there was some sacred untouchable area with traditional practices, specially if it was a tribal or non white group of humans, right up till i found out about female genital mutilation, – cultural, traditional practice.
    that brought a lot into clear focus
    in the real world the Kereru are rare and in danger of extinction
    just for the sake of filling your stomach up and maybe sticking it to the man, and maybe being ‘traditional’ you would help endanger the Kereru, a bird that cant be that sacred if you would wipe it out.
    that doesnt fit together, in real world terms i mean
    not saying theres anything wrong with ‘tradition’ if its a disfuntional tradition, calling it a ‘tradition’ doesnt make it any less disfuntional
    sound a little like double talk to you? Im not the one with that non processed logic, logic it out, it does not fit together

  2. Yes, serving dead birds which were handed over for feather harvesting as food (if that’s what happened) is a bit dodgy. But as Tariana Turia said on RadioNZ, its not because of tangata whenua that kereru became endangered, they were sustainably harvesting kereru for about a 1000 years before European colonization wiped out most of them in less than 200.

    Now I do not, and will never, support kereru being killed for money. Traditional cultural practice is a shit excuse for exploiting natural resources for business purposes, and yes, people who chop up tuna (eels) for pet food, I’m talking to you:

    But if hapū are actively involved in kereru conservation in their rohe, and they come to a consensus with the local DOC experts that the kereru population in that rohe is healthy enough for a cultural (ie non-commercial) take, I don’t see why that should be anyone else’s business. As Curwen says, there are existing provisions in the Wildlife Act to cover these scenarios.

    • Agree with a lot of what you say, except for the money bit, what i would suggest is that those Iwi who do want to consume Kereru should be allowed in conjunction with DOC to set up breeding programs where 90% of the Kereru would be bred for the use of Iwi and 10% of the captive bred birds returned to the wild thus increasing the wild population,

      Just as buckets of Tii Tii,(muttonbirds), are traded by Ngai Tahu among other Iwi, once a captive breeding stock of enough size were in place Iwi should be allowed to trade them at least among each other,

      Kereru breed single chicks in a year, But, have been known to start another nest, and, have been shown in the wild if their chick is for whatever reason taken from the nest to immediately set about producing another,(up to 3 in a breeding season),

      Kereru are also the ‘drunks’ of the forest, known to drink alcohol produced in boughs in trees that have had berries fermented in the water in such boughs,

      If you watch them for long enough in the forest you might be lucky enough to see that they are smart enough to actually transport the fruit from a berry bearing tree without the necessary deposit of water in a bough to a tree that has one in order to ferment that seasons piss up,(family stories from pre-European times say that it wasn’t only the birds that got to enjoy the results of such brewing),

      People with Homes around large populations of Kereru report them dying from having crashed into their windows and i would suggest that those birds are probably either pissed or OD’ed on food,

      They will eat a favorite food, they love plums, until they can barely attain lift off which they will not be capable of sustaining for any distance with such a load of food on board and will simply crash to the ground with some saying they have seen the poor old bird with eyes to big for its belly, bursting on impact,

      Doc and Tuwharetoa have reached agreement on a captive Trout
      rearing project which will supply Tuwharetoa that fish in a as yet unknown bulk as recognition of what the tourist trout fishery established in their rivers and lakes has done to their traditional rights to fish their rivers and lakes as they see fit,

      I see no reason why in the future Tuwharetoa and Ngati Rangi,(who fed the Kereru to the Iwi leaders group along with the Cabinet Ministers), should not have the ability and the right to trade captively bred Trout for captively bred Kereru and that Ngai Tahu have the right to Trade their traditional catch of Tii Tii with both,

      And, if money should change hands as a means of fostering such a trade i can see no reason why i would oppose that,(so long as the Conservation of the species in the wild is Paramount!!!! chief!!!!)….

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