THE SACRED KOROTANGI
Sacred Korotangi of Taputapu-atea, Ra’i’atea, Hawaiki
The eminent Professor Julius von Haast examined the sacred Korotangi of ‘Tainui’ in 1881, and after his comments were considered by other scientists, they wrote.
“The stone bird has been carved with a sharp implement, either of iron or bronze, of which, as we know, the ‘natives’ had no knowledge; the lines are all cut so evenly that it could not have been done with a stone implement.
This evidence is against the view that the bird is an old-time ‘native’ artifact. Professor von Haast’s paper on the Korotangi appears at p. 104 of vol. 14 of the Transactions [Journal of the Polynesian Society] alluded to above.”
In that paper it is stated that the bird was fashioned from dark green serpentine, weighed 4lbs. 10oz., and resembled in form certain Japanese bronzes representing birds; Professor von Haast further remarked that the carving ‘probably came from some eastern country’.
After the Korotangi was recovered again from the Waikato River, it was sold to Major Wilson of Cambridge. In 1938 his family gifted the sacred bird to the National Museum (now ‘Te Papa’ in the Big Harbour of the Spear (Whanganui-a-Tara) with the instruction that regardless of where it was stored or displayed, the sacred Korotangi ‘… must always face the light’.
In 1995 the sacred Korotangi was returned to a group of descendants of the ‘Tainui’ people because of a clause in Te Wiremu’s ‘tiriti’ paper of Waitangi-ki-Tua. Perhaps it happily rests beside the Waikato River once again, until the day it again needs to be reunited with the sacred eel pendant of Maui.
- introduction pages of 'The Night Fishermen'
From The Night Fishermen