Minister: Dangerous to eat kererū found dead

3:08 pm on 21 July 2015

The Conservation Minister is accusing the marae that served kererū to Crown ministers of being disingenuous.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said it was dangerous to use dead birds handed over by DOC for food. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Maggie Barry said the protected native wood pigeons were passed to Māori by the Department of Conservation (DOC) for strict cultural purposes and it was a dangerous practice to serve birds that had been found dead as food.

Kereru

Kererū (native wood pigeon) Photo: SUPPLIED / WCC

The Ohakune marae that served the kererū to iwi leaders and three ministers - Amy Adams, Nathan Guy and Dame Tariana Turia - said it did not know the gifted birds could not be eaten.

The department would not say whether it should be clearer with iwi around the current practice of handing over dead kererū.

In a statement, DOC said it was still looking into the claims surrounding the marae's use of the birds for food.

A spokesperson for Maungarongo Marae, Che Wilson, said they were working closely with DOC.

Meanwhile, Northland leader Sonny Tau, who was caught in possession of five of the protected species, is due to appear in an Invercargill court on Friday.