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The Maoris and the Fern-root.

The chief food of the Maori, it appears* was the fern root, which required constant labor to procure and prepare "This hard work, this constant otruggle to live which the fern-root demanded, T think," Bay*Mr Firth, "more than any other cause made the Maoris the strongest rand most vigorous race of siivn.^ca over known. I have often eaten this Maori food m a kind of porridge made from tho fern meal. It is not very palatable, but it evidently was** great)producer of bone, muscle, and stature, with a corresponding mental development." Tho inland waters of New Zealand were almost destitute „> of fish, with the exception of the eel, which was very abundant, and this and sharks caught by the coast tribes formed almost the only change of diet the Maori could obtain. Captain Cook introduced the pig and the. potato, • two articles of' food highly appreciated by the Maori, which rendered his life much easier, though, m the opinion of Mr Firth', this WHB a doubiiftil* benefit, as it relieved him of the necessity-for that constant and steady work which had given him stich a hard and tough (Constitution. Although "fern continued to be largely an article of diet till forty ye^rs =vgo, there c?ln be little doubt that the decline of the" race began when pigs and potatoes became their chief articles of f00d.." The Maoris are themselves apparently of this opinion. "Oh," said an old chief the other day* " when the Maoris ate fern-root w«- were strong. We could dig, run, fightj and never be weary. But now that we live on potatoes and pigs we are like bags of water. When we went ,to r catch sharks :we lived on fern-root and never got sea dck. Now if we go' tc? sea we are as miserable as the Europeans." ' .

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2548, 20 October 1890

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The Maoris and the Fern-root. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2548, 20 October 1890