By far the smallest member of a group of flightless birds known as Ratites, the Kiwi is best recognized as New Zealand’s most revered icon.
Evolving alongside the dinosaurs, the Kiwi once numbered in the millions. Today however, their population has and continues to decrease at such a rate that it is predicted in some quarters that extinction could occur within 30 years. At present the Kiwi population is estimated at 80,000 and although legally protected since the beginning of the 20th century and with the best efforts of conservation programs, the future remains uncertain.
Three varieties of Kiwi are recognized, the large spotted, the little spotted, and the brown. All are distinguished by their vestigial wings and powerful legs. A nocturnal shy forest dweller, the Kiwi feeds on worms and insects living in the forest sub-soil. It has developed a highly sophisticated sense of smell and with its long beak with extended nostrils situated at the tip is well equipped to detect and dig out prey.
Another unique physiological feature is the exceptional size of a Kiwi egg in relation to the hen. A kiwi egg is one-quarter the hen’s weight, one third her size and six times the size of a poultry hen’s egg.
Caught mainly in traps, the Kiwi was highly valued as food by the old time Māori and its feathers were used in the weaving of treasured cloaks.
The inspiration for this highly stylized, mask-like Kiwi is drawn from the Māori myth relating to the legendary long striding giant from Hawaiki, Rongokako, who in his travels always had as company, a giant Kiwi. It is believed their footprints are visible in sandstone rocks in various places and their trekking formed the mountain ranges.
Te Rarawa, Ngāti Paoa, Te Ātiawa
Rex Homan was born 1940 in Thames, New Zealand of Māori, Irish and Scottish ancestry. He lived in Auckland in his early years before moving to the Bay of Plenty. Rex has earned international recognition as a wood sculptor in the 1960s and 1970s and began working in bronze in the 1980s. His current work is influenced by the culture of the Pacific and displays uniqueness in its diversity of form and dramatic flow of lines. Rex has exhibited in solo, group and jury shows. He has won several national awards for “National Wood Skills” and is represented in corporate and private collections worldwide.
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