New Zealand: World record broken for millions of hui bird feathers

The feather was expected to sell for up to $3.000, but the previous record for a feather of the same type was broken by a whopping 450 percent, Webb's auction house said.

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Photo: WEBB'S/BBC
Photo: WEBB'S/BBC
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

A feather of the extinct New Zealand hui bird was sold at auction for 45.521 New Zealand dollars (about 26.000 euros), breaking the world record.

The Huija bird was sacred to the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, where today there are about 700.000 of them out of a population of 4.000.000, with about 100.000 in Australia.

In the past, the Huija feather was a status symbol for the Maori, whose chiefs wore it.

The bird was last officially seen in 1907, although there were unconfirmed cases thirty years later, according to the data of the New Zealand Museum.

The feather was expected to sell for up to $3.000, but the previous record for a feather of the same type was broken by a whopping 450 percent, Webb's auction house said.

Huija was a songbird, known for its ability to jump, beautiful feathers and white beak.

Lia Morris of Webb's auction house said the pen sold was in "wonderful condition".

"It still has a distinct shine and there has been no insect damage," she told the BBC.

He adds that the auction house framed the pen with protective glass and paper, which means it will have a "really long life."

The feather is registered as a taonga tuturu (taonga tuturu) - a term denoting a protected Maori object in the system of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage of New Zealand.

Only collectors with an adequate license could buy it, with the note that the pen could not leave the country without permission from the ministry.


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Strong interest from New Zealanders has helped push the price up, Morris says, adding that "a record number of people want to get into the registered collector system".

"In New Zealand we care about caring for the land, the environment, the flora and fauna.

"I think that today, because the bird is now extinct, we look at other birds in New Zealand differently, we don't want that to ever happen again."

The bird was a rare sight even before the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, which is why it was in high demand among collectors and fashion traders, which led to its extinction, according to the Museum of New Zealand.


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