The huia.

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Tono kōrero mai

A documentary, produced by Alwyn Owen and narrated by Ian Johnstone, about the extinct native bird, the huia. Broadcast 28 Mar 1967.

Includes a description of the last recorded sighting of the bird. Voices heard include those of Kingi Ihaka, W. J. Phillips of the Dominion Museum, Mr Poynter, ornithologist Dr Robert Falla and John Kendrick.

Several unnamed elderly men and women recall seeing huia and describe their habits.
Kingi Ihaka explains the bird's significance to Māori.
W.J. Phillips, author of book about the huia, says arrival of pakeha meant social structure of Māori society broke down and more Māori began wearing huia feathers and this accompanied by European demand, lead to its extinction.
Accounts of slaughter by Buller and other parties; and destruction of bush in the lower North Island where huia ranged.
Kingi Ihaka recalls several prominent chiefs in Wairarapa and Manawatu tried to protect huia's areas by making them tapu; the Governor-General the Earl of Onslow named his son "Huia" and met with Otaki Māori to hear their concerns. In 1892 the huia was gazetted as a protected bird.
However, lowland forest continued to be destroyed.
Unnamed elderly men and woman describe how the bird fed on grubs in rotten wood and possibly mated for life; not a strong flier. Birds used to come for mutton fat when sheep were being slaughtered.

Duke and Duchess of York's visit in 1902 lead to greater demand for huia feathers for wearing at royal functions by Māori and Europeans alike; Attempts were made to capture live birds for release in sanctuaries but these failed. Lack of coordination by three government departments involved in the scheme.
Sightings dramatically declined after 1902; introduction of honeybees also lead to more deaths from stings; last authenticated sighting was in Tararua Range 28 Dec 1907.

Other claimed sightings up to 1961 were either not investigated or authenticated. Dr Falla says many may have been kokako sightings.
Actuality of Mr Poynter, a taxidermist of York Bay in Wellington, reports seeing them in 1922. (continued on T515B)

Mr Poynter says photos were taken of them but were later destroyed. Dr Olliver of the Dominion Museum refused to believe him.
Unnamed woman recalls how her family saw birds they believed were huia in 1954 in Urewera forest. She rang Dr Olliver who was incredulous. Interview with Miss Margaret Hutchison, an English museum employee recalls seeing a bird in 1961 on the Waikareiti Track, also in Te Urewera.

Dr Falla, Mr Bell of the Wildlife Service and Mr W.J. Phillips give their opinions on whether the huia could still exist.
John Kendrick of Hamilton talks about a search party he mounted to hunt for the bird.

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Year 1967

Reference number 27558

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits RNZ Collection
Owen, Alwyn (b.1926), Producer
Ihaka, Kingi Matutaera, 1921-1993, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Phillips, Walter Joseph, 1884-1963, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Kendrick, John Lisle (b.1922, d.2013), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Bell, Brian Douglas, 1930-, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Falla, R. A. (Robert Alexander), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Radio New Zealand. National Programme (estab. 1964, closed 1986), Broadcaster
Johnstone, Ian, 1935-, Narrator

Duration 00:50:00

Date 28 Mar 1967

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