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i.heteralocha acutirostris

ii.where is your waka, huia?

Kirsty Dunn
i. heteralocha acutirostris

maker unknown origin unknown purchased  tw

thousand and five collected pieces remain  skin

desirable ornaments intro   duction of  predator

english drawing rooms    last   accepted   report

forest clearance by p   ākeha  (european)  a  few

stuffed birds study   skins  māori hunted the bir

individuals high s   tatus stuffed demand  for th

museumspecim    en strictly  controlled  species

species contro     led strictly  specimen museum

the for dema     nd stuffed status high individua

bird thehun      ted māori skins study birds stuff

few a (eur      opean) pākeha  by    clearance  for

of  report       accepted lastroo     ms drawing en

predator       of introductiono     rnaments desira

skinrem       ain pieces colle      cted five andtho

ii. where is your waka, huia?

there are two huia heads floating in a glass case at Te Papa

                and you can make the word kupu out of puku but I cannot conjure the word for

                the wingless thing inside there as I trace the long, curved line of kōrero back

to the start of someone else’s




just two heads floating

and a sign that does not have the word “korehāhā” on it

                no “ngaro” either

                and definitely not “whanaunga” let me tell you


and I cannot fathom why you would want the ngutu of another pinned so proudly to your chest

a garish medal for your battle with the birds

or why you would decide to chain it to a pocket cigarette lighter of all things

(are you feeling as māuiui as me?)


but this is what the description tells me

this and something about hunting and something about status

and something about drawing rooms and

I almost smile at the poetic potential of it all but I can’t because


there are two huia heads floating in a glass case at Te Papa

and the caption says you are haunting us and I do not accept this

(but I also would not blame you if you did and started asking for your stuff back and demanding a proper burial for your lonely, patient bones)


two of them, e rua ngā upoko huia

and a paragraph proclaiming that all that is left of you are

                pieces of jewellery and

                a few stuffed birds and

                some skins for the studying

(sorry I guess the songs and stories do not count)


the label says: heteralocha acutirostris

though it doesn’t really matter


because at the end of the day

there are still two huia heads left floating in a glass case at Te Papa

and a description that doesn’t tell me where the rest of them went

but when I turn around the sign above the door announces:


“you are leaving mana whenua”

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