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Chatham Island Tui
Largely confined to Rangatira and Pitt Islands, the Chatham Island tūī has recently been restored to Chatham Island, they are now the only remaining honey eater on the Islands. A shining metallic green with bluish purple reflections on the shoulders and distinctive white neck tuft. Called by many names other than Tui or Koko, they are of great importance to Maori and there are many stories about the relationship in the literature. Often kept in cages and trained to speak and even welcome people to a marae.
A rare solitary bird located in the shallow waters along the margins of rivers, inland lakes, swamps and coastal estuaries. Incredibly elegant, they lift themselves off into flight, the wings flapping slowly and purposefully. Climatically New Zealand is near the extreme limits of its range and the species was almost exterminated to satisfy the demand for feathers for women’s hats in the 1860’s. The numbers have now slightly stabilised. In Maori oratory, the most telling compliment is to liken someone to Kotuku. It symbolizes everything rare and beautiful.
An incredibly precious and highly endangered bird. Locating the Whio involves a long and difficult drive up to Toatoa and to the western edge of the Raukumara Forest Park, as it has now retreated from the lowlands to the swifter flowing streams of the more mountainous and wilder areas of the country. Like many of New Zealand’s endemic birds they are not good flyers, a feature suggesting the Whio is a very ancient inhabitant of New Zealand. The characteristic whistle is produced only by the male and this is best rendered by the Maori name Whio.