The first Kiwi skin to be fowarded to Europe belonged to this species and was obtained by Captain Barclay of the ship Providence about 1813. It found its way to Lord Derby’s museum and was described by Dr. Shaw under its present name Apteryx australis. So strange did the description seem that for a long time the very existence of the species was not credited and the specimen had to be produced to convince doubting minds that it was possible for such a strange bird to exist.
Considering the state of systematic ornithology at the time, Shaw’s assignment of a position to this new and strange bird, of which he had but the skin, gives him great credit, for he said it seemed “to approach more nearly to the Struthious and Gallinaceous tribes than to any other.” And his credit is still greater when we find the venerable John Latham, who is said to have examined the specimen with Shaw, placing it some years later among the penguins, being apparently led to that conclusion through its functionless wings and the backward situation of its legs. At Shaw’s death, in the same year, it passed into the possession of Lord Stanley, afterwards 13th earl of Derby, and president of the Zoological Society, and it is now with the rest of his collection in the Liverpool Museum.
The specimen was obtained at Dusky Sound, as likewise was the next one of this species to be taken, namely a bird collected by Mantelli and shown at a meeting of the Zoological Society in 1850 when Bartlett defined his species from the North Island.
Two other specimens found their way to Europe, one to Leiden and another to Vienna and up to 1862 these four were all that were known.
In 1890, Sir Walter Lawry Buller received a specimen of a large Kiwi taken on Stewart Island and exhibited the skin at a meeting of the Wellington Philosophical Society. This was the earliest record Oliver could find of a Kiwi having been collected on Stewart Island.
Three years later a specimen was sent to Rothschild who made it the basis of a new species, Apteryx lawryi.
In 1911, Guthrie–Smith made a study of the nesting habits of this Kiwi and gave an account of them in his book Mutton Birds and Other Birds.
Other common names: —
Haast Tokoeka, Southern Tokoeka, South Island brown kiwi.
Where to find: —
Haast, Stewart Island, Fiordland.
Youtube video —
Illustration description: —
Shaw, George & Nodder, Fredick Polydor, The Naturalist’s Miscellany, 1790-1813.
Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.
Page date & version: —
Sunday, 25 May 2014; ver2009v1