NZ Favourite Grandmother accuses Maori of eating Kereru to extinction “just like the Moa”

Maggie Barry, NZ’s favourite grandmother, is getting stuck into Maori for tucking into delicious wood pigeon.

Birds like the native kereru shouldn’t be eaten to the brink of extinction like Maori ate moa, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

Her comment follows a report late yesterday three government ministers – Amy Adams, Nathan Guy and Tariana Turia – were served the protected bird mixed with chicken at an iwi leaders’ hui in 2013.

A spokesman for Maungarongo Marae near Ohakune, which apparently served the birds, said because the dead birds were given to them by the Department of Conservation (DOC), they thought it was fine to dish up.

However, DOC says birds, including kereru, which are found dead and given to them are sometimes transferred to local iwi for cultural use such as using the feathers or bones. It is not aware of any requests to eat them, and says if there were the department would oppose it on food safety grounds.

Ms Barry says the 2013 meal would have been served out of “wilful or deliberate ignorance”.

“It is not appropriate to eat threatened species fullstop.”

When asked why the flesh of the bird shouldn’t be eaten she replied: “When was the last time you ate road kill? Why would you? It’s not what you do.”

She hadn’t had any requests to change the law protecting kereru, in place since 1912, despite Maori still consuming them.

“Maori ate moa as well. We don’t want to eat birds to the brink of extinction that is not appropriate in this day and age.”

Ms Barry was “pretty certain” she’d never eaten the bird knowingly or not. She expected guests at the dinner would “not be served a protected species under the guise of a chicken dish”.

Ms Adams “had no idea” whether she ate the bird because the meal was two years ago.

“I’m not responsible for what they served, I have no idea what they served. If I had been advised it was kereru I wouldn’t have eaten it and to the best of my knowledge I haven’t eaten it,” she said today.

Well actually Maggie…road kill is legal to eat in 10 states in the US, Australia, Great Britain and Canada. In fact the meat from roadkill is acknowledged to be “lower in calories and saturated fat than domestic meat, while being higher in Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and slightly lower in overall fat.”

Gary Busey also pitched a cook book for road-kill.

Anyway…why isn’t Kereru on the menu…the sure fire way to ensure its survival is put it on the menu.

I’ve never eaten a Kereru but I know people who have and they say they are delicious.


– 3News


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  • I’ve had pigeon before. But not Keruru.

    • Boondecker

      The very first River Cottage program had escape-to-the-country chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, shooting roosting pigeons off the top of his neighbour’s horse stable with the slug gun. He got about 14 of them. He then harvested the breast-meat only and cooked a North African Pastilla.

      Looked absolutely delicious too.

      • My neighbour, who hailed from Belgium, reared them in his garage. They never flew. So the meat was very tender.

        • kehua

          I worked on cattle stations in North Qld when I was young we lived on cornedbeef and pigeons Sqatters, Spinifex,Crested and Bronzies were a few that I remember as well as about 5 different kinds of dove. They were either stewed in the camp oven or baked in clay in the embers. All were good eating they were found around any water pools or turkey nests( above ground dams to hold water pumped up by windmils).

  • STAG

    I live for the day one of these fat birds misjudges the ranch sliders as the rush around the house, It’ll be in the pot before you can say forbidden fruit.

    Someone should farm them.

    • Ross

      I’ve had a few close calls with a massive window in my house, but the buggers are more resilient than I am desperate, so we haven’t had the chance to properly meet yet… it’s a matter of time (I hope)!

  • armotur

    We have had two Kereu around for several years as we are fortunate enough to back onto a reserve area.

    We have seen them very often gorging on Kowhai flowers, outside a window, they are beautiful birds close up and huge. Of recent times only one seems to be around, let’s hope it’s okay!

    • johcar

      Likewise, we are visited when our Puka trees are in fruit. Awesome to see (and hear) them. Love the way the branches sag under their weight!!!

  • Rupert

    There would certainly be merit in allowing a license to breed kereru for sale, maybe under the proviso that 50% of all mature birds have to be released into the wild. Be tricky to ensure only farmed birds are sold, but I’m sure that could be worked out.

  • john Doe

    There could well be an opportunity for these birds to be farmed and sold commercially. In that way we could all test our fascination for this apparent delicacy.

  • Boondecker

    Ron Crosby’s book, “Te Kooti’s Nemisis” tells the story of of Captain Gilbert Mair, of the New Zealand Constabluary. Gilbert Mair was of rural settler stock and lived closely with Maori and was a fluent speaker in Te Reo. The thing I remember most about this book was the keruru info strangely.

    Maori, Mair and others living in the bush would kill 300-400 keruru at a time – for food and trading. The New Zealand bush was chock-a-block full of them, but at that rate of wholesale cull it was never going to last. It’s the reason why the poor bird was protected before the end of the 19th century – it was nearly extinct.

    The keruru has never really recovered and probably won’t ever, if people are back knocking them off for themselves and their mates.

    • armotur

      No they are close to extinction because of deforestation, according to one of our MP’s. Yeah Right!

    • kehua

      I`m not sure how much tme you spend around native bush blocks but I come into contact with Kereru frequently in areas within 80 km of Auckland CBD, every winter including right now we have 3 or 4 Kereru feeding on kowhai leaves and seedpods on trees in our garden. They come back for the purriri berries late summer, occasionally they crash into windows as they get a bit drunk, so far none have died as a result but if they did…………….

      • Boondecker

        I do come into contact a lot. I have a “green belt” made up of thick native bush and tall kauri right behind my place. It’s a fairly large stand, one of several in this part of the North Shore. As a result there are plenty of native birds, including the keruru. Not many keruru though, but they are there and they even feast the berries off the tall palm outside my front door. It’s quite something to watch as the fumble and tumble noisily around, so loudly it’s like someone is trying to break down the door.

        I can see how easy it must be (and must have been) to hunt them. They have little fear of people and the cat, which is definitely one of those that Cam would hate, takes his leave when they’re about due to their size.

        I have not (knowingly) eaten keruru but I have been catered well for on many a marae, so who knows… On the other hand, I likely would consume a “gifted road kill” sample knowingly even less. If one flew into the window in front of me and was dead, I probably would turf it out like the other birds that do it. If i was with someone who knew how to hunt and also properly prepare a keruru, I would most likely eat it. If it came prepared from a verified and licensed butcher, I definitely would eat it – just as I’ve eaten chicken, duck, goose, ostrich, emu, pheasant and quail.

  • Genevieve

    I have a fond memory from many years ago when living in Western Australia.
    We were travelling in the outback, pulled into a road stop cafe/service station, and the fully laiden kangaroo roadkill truck was there. A local Aboriginal family arrived in their station wagon, one of them got out and spoke to the driver of the roadkill truck. Next thing, the driver cut a leg off a dead kangaroo, gave it to the aboriginal man and he went away with his family, quite happy with the main ingredient for their evening meal.

    • Tom

      Protein’s protein

  • WABloke

    Yum, Aussie roadkill.

    As for Nana’s comments about Maori eating moa to extinction; I’m surprised nobody has called her a racist.

    • armotur

      Maybe it’s indisputable plus they weren’t extinct because of roadkill. Maybe forest track kill? Speeding Maori war party’s!

    • Rex

      It’s not racist it’s a fact!

      • WABloke

        It was tongue in cheek mate ;)

  • Tom

    At the risk of soung like a Twig ‘n Tweet weirdo, they are a very very important part of NZ’s forest. Without them, several types of tree basically do not get their seeds spread. I’m a little bewildered as to why The Greens haven’t got stuck into the bloke responsible, couldn’t be that they are just nasty little communists only pretending to care for the environment?

  • johnnymanukau.

    An old Maori mate of mine ,back 50 years, knocked off a fat Keruru with his Kea gun and wrapped it in clay and cooked it in the hot embers of our [ Manukau ] camp fire. When the clay was cracked and steaming we rolled it out and knocked the clay off,all the feathers came away with the clay and the guts were just a small steaming ball.
    The Keruru was pulled apart into nice edible pieces and we tucked in.
    WOW! it was the best poultry I have ever eaten. Breed them I would say.
    After that we swung a venison stew over the fire for later in the day,paradise.

  • peterwn

    In Alaska railroad kill is OK. Railroad staff remove the deceased animal from the tracks and tell the locals to come and pick it up.

  • Rex

    Well said Maggie. It has always amazed me that Maori call themselves the guardians of the environment! Yeh right! The Moa killing off is a good advertisement that this is not true!

  • simon

    According to Tariana on Radio NZ this morning, it’s all the whiteys’ fault that Kereru are endangered because whiteys destroyed the environment . Of course, the presenter didn’t think to ask the obvious question about Moa extinction or the large tracts of bush that were burned just to make hunting Moas easier

    • OneTrack

      Of course the the Radio NZ presenter didn’t ask such an obvious question. That would be “racist”(tm). And the presenter would have been shunned at the next Chardonnay soiree.

  • Bartman

    Heard today on Red Radio that Maori Party suggesting that cultural rights take precedence over the laws. Still can’t get their head around one law for all. Just remind me – what was the Maori Party position on Japanese whaling (same cultural arguement) or Dolphin hunting (ditto)? Just the merest hint of hypocrisy perchance?

  • When the Sonny Tau story broke in the media early on it was stated on one report I think on TV One that there were no Kereru in Northland. I suppose it wasn’t because they were eaten….. but deforestation.

  • Abjv

    Wonder what killed them. Hit by a car? Hit by a club? 1080?