Grey warbler – riroriro

Carving: Fantail pair

Date: 2018

Location: Private collection

THE CARVING:  Carved from kauri that used to be a door  from an old villa in Cromwell. Eyes are onyx, legs cast metal and painted with artist acrylics.

Set upon found wood.

Mounts to the wall with a french cleat (supplied)

The bird

THE BIRD: Endemic to New Zealand.

The grey warbler is New Zealand’s most widely distributed endemic bird species. It vies with rifleman for the title of New Zealand’s smallest bird, with both weighing about 6 g. The title usually goes to rifleman, based on its shorter tail and therefore shorter body length.

The grey warbler is more often heard than seen, having a loud distinctive song, and tending to spend most of its time in dense vegetation. They are closely related to other members of the Gerygone genus, which are found throughout Australasia and South-East Asia, and include the other native warbler, the Chatham Island warbler.

This is a manu tohu tau of the Maori. It shows what the coming season will be by its manner of building its nest. If its snug little roofed nest is built with the side entrance facing the north, then the prevailing wind of the coming season will blow from the south, and vice versa.

When it’s cry is heard in winter or early spring it is a sign for man to be up and doing—to commence the work of preparing cultivations for crops. It is urging people to commence the work of the year.


Life size. Wall mounted.