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  • Rights: Crown copyright
    Published 18 November 2020 Referencing Hub media

    Ruru (morepork) whakapapa to wetlands as well as dense forests. Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman explains their repo connections.

    Questions for discussion:

    • How was the connection between the ruru and the repo made?
    • What does Cheri mean when she says the ruru don’t know boundaries?


    Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman

    A really good example of a bird that is not considered to be in wetlands but really is a part of it, as recognised in the mātauranga of people here – at least in Waikato – is the ruru, the morepork. So this is a bird that people associate with land, and yet when you talk to the kaumātua down in the lower river, they always talk about ruru calling alongside the main stem of the river. So if we didn’t embrace that kōrero, we would keep segregating out that bird as not being part of the river when in actual fact it’s an important part of the story.

    We’ve also found now a whakapapa that links it right back to whitebait, through a tree and a moth. The ruru, they don’t know boundaries. They just know trees and where their food sources are, and the pūriri moth is one of their key food sources and that moth tends to prefer certain native trees. Often people associate it with the pūriri tree, but we also know that it will drill holes into mānuka, but also this other tree called the putaputawētā, which is named after the wētā, because wētā are lazy, and once the pūriri moth has left, the wētā will move in. So the putaputawētā is recognised as being this space where wētā are found, but it’s actually a really important tree for the pūriri moth.

    So by having that understanding, we can now say to people who are doing restoration on the main stem to make sure that they bring that tree into those plantings whereas before it wasn’t considered to be an important tree. And we’re saying, well actually, it really, really is. It brings in our pūriri moths, which then feed our ruru, which are flying around the catchment. So that’s the beauty of making sure that our people can be at the forefront of those discussions to create that synergy and that integration.


    Close-up footage of curious ruru, Nick Bradsworth
    Footage of pīwakawaka and ruru, and close up of ruru, courtesy of Neil, a visiting English bird lover
    Illustration, ruru whakapapa, Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman, sourced from Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland
    Photo, pūriri moth on hand, Stefan Marks, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Photo, mānuka tree, Cheryl Dawson, CC BY-NC 4.0
    Photo, putaputawētā tree, Steve Attwood
    Tree wētā footage, Jan Henrik, Neat Nature Photography
    Photo, holes in pūriri tree, Derek Craig, CC BY-NC 4.0, sourced from iNaturalistnz
    Pūriri caterpillar in tree, Ngā Manu Images
    Timelapse footage, pūriri moth hatching, Ngā Manu Nature Reserve
    Extreme close-up footage, ruru, Denise Batchelor

    Rights: Crown Copyright

    The Voice of the Wetlands

    The handbook Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland forms the basis of the collection of resources funded by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds initiative.

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