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No. 8 (Winter 1954)
– 39 –


The gateway of Petone Pa, Wellington Harbour, as it was in 1850, has been copied for us by Mr Gordon White from a soiled photograph of an old drawing by W. Fox. Probably the carvings on the gateway were too much for the original artist, but they appear to have been Taranaki in general concept. More interesting is the construction of the gateway posts, the upper ends symbolising human heads. Inside the pa is what is obviously a canoe and near its prow is a long, upright pole, strung on which, one above the other, are two penguins. In case there should be any mistake they are so labelled in the original sketch.

A detailed inset of the penguins on the pole has been drawn by Miss Traill. This is considered of importance, and constitutes our only record of penguins being used for food by early Maori inhabitants of the Harbour. Enquiries made by the writer at Stewart Island and Bluff indicate that penguins were an important food to southern Maoris, though they do not appear to be esteemed as much as were other available animals.

It is the little blue penguin, or korora of the Maoris, which is most common in Wellington Harbour. In his book on New Zealand birds, Dr Oliver tells us that this penguin is never seen far from land, and comes ashore in stormy weather to rest in caves and holes along the coast. On land it walks with a swaying motion, the body being bent forwards. During August and September, the blue penguin lays two eggs in a nest situated in a crevice or burrow, these being hatched in about 38 days.

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Carved Gateway, Petone Pa. 1850. Insets the penguins on the pole.
(Copied from drawing by W. Fox Esq.)