Aug 21, 2007
The now extinct Haasts eagle, Harpagornis moorei
The Maori (or Ma¯ori) folklore tells of the Pouakai, a large bird that often attacked warriors and was quite capable of carrying off children. Could this have been the now extinct Haasts eagle, Harpagornis moorei (shown above), said to be one of the world’s largest living eagle? Female Haast’s eagles weighed 10 to 15 kg (22 to 33 lb), and males weighed 9 to 10 kg (20 to 22 lb). They had a wingspan of roughly 2.6 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) at most, which was short for a bird of the eagle’s weight (the largest Golden Eagles and Steller’s Sea Eagles may have wings of almost the same width), but aided them when hunting in the dense forests of New Zealand.
[Note: Harpagornis was recently shown to be synonymous with Hieraaetus, according to Darren Naish.]
These creatures were eight to ten feet tall and hairy. They were feared by the people of the lower Wanganui River as they often viciously attacked fishermen in the area.
The above Taongoa-Tumuki mask represents the direct descendants of Rapuwai.
The Rapuwai were gigantic, slow, clumsy, hairy man like beasts. Strong and muscular they were however, very shy and retiring.
Hopolodactylus delcourti is a two-foot long gecko known only from a single type specimen discovered in the basement of the Marseille Museum of Natural History in 1986. The lizard fits the Maori folklore description of a creature called the KaweKaweau.
The Maori spoke of the existence of a monitor-like lizard reaching a length of around five to six feet. The Kumi Lizard was supposed to inhabit streams, and was proficient at burrowing. It had a serrated dorsal crest and large teeth, which caused the upper lip to protrude.
This creature, which is slowly gaining “well-known status” outside New Zealand, is said to be of human stature with long hair, long arms that come down below the knee, and hands/feet tipped with sharp talons. The Moehau are reported to inhabit the Coromandel region of the North Island. Moehau are considered extremely dangerous to humans.