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In Māori mythology, a pouakai, poukai, hokioi, or hakawai is a monstrous bird that ate people.[1]

According to an account given to Sir George Grey, an early governor of New Zealand, hokioi were huge black-and-white predators with a red crest and yellow-green tinged wingtips.[2]

In some Māori legends pouakai kill humans, which could have been possible if the name relates to the Haast's eagle given the massive size and strength of the bird (which is believed to have hunted moa, which could weigh up to 140 kilograms (310 lb)). Such a creature could very well have killed and eaten humans: Haast's eagles did not become extinct until around one hundred years after the arrival of the Māori.

However, it has been ascertained that the "hakawai" and "hokioi" legends refer to sounds produced by Coenocorypha snipe – in particular, the extinct South Island species.[1][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rodgers, Paul (14 September 2009). "Maori legend of man-eating bird is true". The Independent. Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand"
  3. ^ Miskelly, C. M. (1987). "The identity of the hakawai" (PDF). Notornis 34 (2): 95–116.