Taxidermy, Kōtuku, White heron; RI.W2002.1393


Taxidermy, Kōtuku, White heron



About this object

A stuffed and mounted kōtuku (white heron) in a glass cabinet.

Kōtuku are rare in Aotearoa New Zealand, with only one breeding sight in the whole country, in Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island).

They are an important manu (bird) to Māori; they had 'mythical' status for Māori because of their rarity and beauty, appearing in many pūrākau (legends, stories). Their feathers were considered tapu (sacred) and were used sparingly for personal adornments. They are also considered taoka/taonga species, and have been recognised as such under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.

'Department of Conservation: White heron/Kōtuku'

'New Zealand Birds Online: White heron'

An old display label on the cabinet notes that this kōtuku may have been exhibited at the New Zealand Exhibition circa 1903. This would likely have been the 1906-07 exhibition held in Christchurch. The label reads:
From "Mains o Blair" Otahuti
This exhibit went to the U.S.A.
to the N.Z. Exhibition held c1903'

Following on from the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, exhibitions such as the New Zealand Exhibition were major events where nations put themselves on display, presenting their industrial progress, showcasing cultural customs and artforms, encouraging tourism and the sale of goods, etc. More information about international exhibitions and world's fairs can be found at:

'Te Ara: Exhibitions and world’s fairs'


Cabinet: h 1120 mm x w 640 mm x d 243 mm
Kōtuku: h 890 mm x w 490 mm x d 120 mm

Subject and Association Keywords


Subject and Association Keywords

Animals (fauna)

Object Type

taoka/taonga, animals

Object number



Attribution - Non-commercial (cc) Attribution - Non-commercial (cc)

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