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tutukiwi / snipe

Here’s a typical story of how a bird became extinct. And how we, as humans, have had a lot to learn.

With eyes set well back on their heads, tutukiwi (the snipe) could see widely. But what they could see coming, they couldn’t avoid!

Like their larger cousin, the kiwi, they nested on the ground. They were very tame. They ran about on the ground.

It suited them to live like this in our luscious landscape.

They did have a surprise though! Their night-time calls terrified early European explorers. Hak’wai, hak’wai, hak’wai – called a ghost from on high, & then a sound like a roaring jet-plane blasted the air!! No-one suspected a bird from the ground could be the culprit!

Suddenly their changes were fatal. It was too late to fly back to the water – too late to hide their eggs in the rushes. In the daytime they were stuck on the ground – now the most dangerous place on earth to be

Too many predators went after them. First they were hunted by the adzebill – but there weren’t too many of them

Then they were hunted in their nests by kiore. Until they were mostly away on our off-shore islands

Then the Norway rat and the cat came, so that they were only on one last island out-post. Taukihepa (Big South Cape), southwest of Rakiura (Stewart Island)

Then, in 1964 the ship rat swam ashore. Two snipe were rescued by the New Zealand Wildlife Service, but both died before release

It was over.

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