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  • Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
    Published 5 September 2023 Referencing Hub media

    This year we’re commemorating 100 years of Forest & Bird by voting for the Bird of the Century – and our vote goes to the huia.

    View the clip to see why we feel this bird, believed to have gone extinct in the early 20th century, represents so much about te taiao o Aotearoa that is valuable and worth preserving.

    Vote here.


    Voice over

    This year, our vote for Bird of the Century goes to the huia.

    This bird was hunted to extinction long before video cameras were invented, but using AI, we’re able to show you – okay, that doesn’t look like a huia at all sorry.

    Pūrākau say a chief bent the female huia’s beak so she could care for her feathers. Naturalists noting the male and female birds’ different hunting techniques first thought they were two different species.

    One newspaper took its name from the whakataukī “Huia e huia, tangata kotahi”. The feathers were a taonga, the birds hunted sustainably or raised in captivity.

    Nowadays huia feathers are the most valuable on earth. But we can’t bring back the bird.

    Humans have increased extinction rates by up to 1,000%. We might be driving the biggest extinction event since the dinosaurs.

    The huia reminds us of what we stand to lose. We’re voting against extinction and honouring a bird who stood out from the rest.


    Mountains from Devils Punchbowl Walking Track, CC-BY Mike Dickison
    Flying Huia components, CC-BY Te Papa, Acquisition History Unknown

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