In his latest exhibition, Paul Dibble pays tribute to the beauty and tragic history of the Huia — the extinct bird species that once occupied native forest throughout the North Island of New Zealand.
The last official sighting of this lost endemic species of New Zealand wattlebird was in 1907, in the densely forested ranges of the Tararuas. The bird was distinguished by bright orange wattles, a densely black plumage with a green metallic tint, and a broad white band at the tip of its tail feathers.
Huia were held in high regard and hunted by both Maori and Pakeha. Maori chiefs often wore the tail feathers in their hair as a symbol of rank, and during the colonial period the birds were collected by ornithologists such as Walter Buller. This hunting, along with widespread deforestation for agriculture by European settlers, is likely to have contributed to their demise.