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The Huia and the Gun


Sir Walter Buller (1838-1906) was one of New Zealand’s leading ornithologists in his time and also the author of several publications, including A History of the Birds of New Zealand first published in 1873. It was after reading his description of hunting for Huia in the Tararua Ranges in 1883 that this work came into being. If only the Huia could have fought back – what a different history there may have been!

A pair of Huias, without uttering a sound, appeared in a tree overhead, and as they were caressing each other with their beautiful bills, a charge of No. 6 brought both to the ground together. The incident was rather touching, and I felt almost glad that the shot was not mine, although by no means loth to appropriate the two fine specimens.[1]

[1]Rod Morris & Hal Smith. Wild South: Saving New Zealand’s Endangered Birds. Auckland: Random House, 1995. Page 18.