A member of the wattlebird family and unique to New Zealand, the now extinct Huia lived in the southern ranges of the North Island of New Zealand. The Huia had orange wattles, white tipped feathers, and its name was derived from its call. It was the only known bird where the bills of the male and female birds were radically different. The male’s beak was short and straight, whereas that of the female was long and curved. The Huia was a weak flyer, moving mainly on foot, and became prey to introduced rats, cats and other animals.
The Huia was regarded as tapu (sacred) by the Maori and its white tipped plumes were treasured and worn in the hair of highranking men and women on ceremonial occasions. The wearing of ornamental feathers was later adopted by European women as a symbol of social standing. In 1901 during a Royal Visit, a Huia feather was presented to the Duke of York, later King George V, which he placed in his hatband. This created a frenzied demand in the fashion industry with feathers fetching a pound each. The birds were sadly inquisitive and easily trapped. Despite legislation in 1892 making it illegal to kill Huia, it was never enforced. The last known sighting was in 1907 in the Tararua Ranges and sadly the Huia has disappeared forever from its mountain home.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
47 Water Street
Canada V6B 1A1
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3 blocks from Waterfront Station
Between Abbott St. and Carrall St.
Monday to Saturday, open 10-6
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