Godwits ( kuaka in Maori) with their amazing life cycle, involving hemisphere crossing journeys from their breeding places in Siberian and Alaskan tundra to New Zealand, have found a place in Maori mythology and European New Zealand literature. For Maori the kuaka were birds of mystery believed to accompany spirits of the departed. For Europeans godwit behaviour has become a metaphor for heading overseas, perhaps never to come back. 'The godwits vanish towards another summer' was one of Charles Brasch's images of New Zealand. Robin Hyde's autobiographical novel The Godwits Fly (1938) has become a New Zealand classic.

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