Hard by the Cloud House

Peter Walker

An eagle, and its place in our history

The legend of Te Hokioi, the extinct giant eagle of New Zealand, leads Peter Walker from a Canterbury sheep run to the Rare Books Room of the British Library and to ‘sacred’ Raiatea in Polynesia, as he uncovers
the story of the predator which once ruled over the Southern Alps.

Was this bird, whose existence was confirmed by scientists only in 2009, the Rukh of Arab legends? Does that mean that medieval Islamic mariners were once blown far into the Pacific, saw the great raptor and made it back home to tell the tale?

From the calamitous encounter of South Island Māori with colonisation to the glories of tenth-century Baghdad, Hard by the Cloud House is a heady mix of history, memoir, science and mythology.

To look inside, click here.

‘There is much to love about this book . . . it is a poetic ramble, beautifully written, wildly speculative — at its best, revealing and laugh-out-loud funny’ — Jenny Nicholls, Waiheke Weekender

‘This might be a heady, occasionally breathless ride, but by the book’s final paragraph, you are also left slightly breathless, exhilarated and ultimately beguiled by what you have discovered in this cabinet of curiosities’ — Chris Moore, New Zealand Listener

‘In testing each fantastical account against the hard facts of geography, oceanography, maritime history and linguistics, Walker wrenches these huge-winged predators out of myth and brings them closer to the flight path of the mighty Pouākai. He does so with a sense of wonder and acuity, building his own, at times conjectural path out of scholarly research and scientific evidence, but also with a deep appreciation of landscape and the people involved in the story of a fabulous bird re-created from fantastic stories and found bones.’ — Sally Blundell, Aotearoa New Zealand Review of Books

  • CATEGORY: Biography and memoir, History, Natural history and environment, Te ao Māori
  • ISBN: 9781991016713
  • ESBN: 9781991016812
  • PUBLISHER: Massey University Press
  • IMPRINT: Massey University Press
  • PUBLISHED: 11/04/2024
  • PAGE EXTENT: 288
  • FORMAT: Soft cover
Profile image for Peter Walker

Peter Walker began his writing career as a journalist and is the author of the acclaimed memoir The Fox Boy.