Extraordinary and Endangered

The kiwi is a nocturnal flightless bird and New Zealand’s national icon. At Te Puia you can see live kiwi close up and learn how we protect these extraordinary endangered birds. As you wander through our lush native bush you can learn how we use native plants for food, medicine, and handcrafts.

Kiwi / Nature

Meet the Kiwi

There are five species of kiwi: brown kiwi, tokoeka, rowi, great spotted kiwi and little spotted kiwi. The kiwi at Te Puia are brown kiwi. The kiwi has large strong legs, sharp claws and a long beak. It’s feathers are shaggy. The kiwi’s egg is huge, and females lay only one at a time. Years ago there were about 12 million kiwi, but today there are fewer than 100,000 and this national icon is endangered.

  • Available to view during
Kiwi / Nature

Kiwi & Māori Culture

Māori have always regarded the kiwi as a special bird. They believed it to the ‘hidden bird’ of Tānemahuta – the god of the forest. Kiwi feathers were woven into beautiful cloaks, which were worn only by chiefs. The name ‘kiwi’ is believed to have been inspired by the ‘kivi’, a tropical bird with a long beak found in Polynesia that resembles the kiwi. Māori used to eat kiwi, steaming them in a hāngi (earth oven).

Kiwi / Nature

Kiwi & New Zealand culture

The kiwi (‘kee-wee’) bird is an important cultural icon to all New Zealanders, who call themselves ‘Kiwis’. In the late 1800s, the kiwi started being used as a trademark, and featured on one of the first pictorial stamps issued. During the early 1900s, New Zealand was depicted in sporting and other cartoons as a kiwi. During the First World War, New Zealand soldiers started being referred to as Kiwis. The term has remained popular until today.