Five hundred years ago, the Haast Eagle (also known as the Harpagornis Eagle), was the largest eagle to have ever lived and inhabited the mountainous regions in South Island and the southern half of the North Island.
As the world’s largest eagle, it weighed as much as thirty pounds with a wingspan of ten feet and had talons wider than tiger’s claws. It perched high in the trees and would strike with great speed, power and precision. The eagle preyed upon large flightless birds such as Moa and Takahe. When the first Maori settlers arrived, they hunted the same flightless birds as a food supply, eventually hunting them into extinction. The Hokioi was also hunted as many perceived the bird as a threat. The loss of its natural prey caused it to become extinct in the 1500s.
The legend of Hokioi is believed to be based upon information regarding this eagle, which has been passed down from generation to generation. Some traditional stories say that Hokioi was only ever seen in flight, others that it only flew at night or was only visible to those of high birth. On rare occasions it could be heard loudly calling its name “Te Hokioi, te hokioi, hu”.
For more information about the Haast Eagle, Neville Guthrie’s New Zealand Eagle website has some amazing details.
Te Rarawa, Ngāti Paoa, Te Ātiawa
Rex Homan was born 1940 in Thames, New Zealand of Māori, Irish and Scottish ancestry. He lived in Auckland in his early years before moving to the Bay of Plenty. Rex has earned international recognition as a wood sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s and began working in bronze in the 1980s. His current work is influenced by the culture of the Pacific and displays uniqueness in its diversity of form and dramatic flow of lines. Rex has exhibited in solo, group and jury shows. He has won several national awards for “National Wood Skills” and is represented in corporate and private collections worldwide.
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