33. The Bird People











The Bird Cave Drawings of Maungati - Te Manunui. 

These images are over 200 years old. It is understood that Maori visited this area for the seasonal harvest of kauru, a sweet food made from the roots and leaves of the ti kouka (cabbage) trees. Apparently they marked their visits with paintings made of charcoal, soot, and iron oxide. These were applied dry, or mixed with animal or bird fat and vegetable gum to form paint. South Canterbury and North Otago contain the bulk of Aotearoa's rock art sites, but most have been lost over time due to erosion, and damage from animals. 

Personally I find that these mystical figures posses a level of intrigue. Who were these bird people, they do not depict the shapes of Moa, but instead maybe they align to the native NZ Eagle, now extinct for over 200 years. Or could they possibly be pointing to angelic entities visiting from another realm, whether in dream time of the Maori of this region? Similar imagery has been observed in North Otago, South Canterbury, Canterbury, Weka Pass and Te Kohanga (Castle Hill).

My interest was spiked for choosing the spaces for my sacred installations after discovering the Bird People cave drawings exist both Castle Hill and Maungati. It would not surprise me at all if in the past similar imagery was present in the caves at Taylors Mistake also.

On my second trip to visit the Bird cave drawings, the big tree out the front had been hit by lightning! And lay split on the ground directly in front of the cave.

Text accompanied images taken form the book below:

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