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12 Huia Birds by Julian Stokoe. Illus. Stacy Eyles

September 20, 2016

12-huia12 Huia Birds by Julian Stokoe. Illus. Stacy Eyles. Pub. Oratia Books, 2016.

The last confirmed sighting of a Huia was in 1907 although there were credible but unconfirmed sightings as late as the 1960’s.

It was a beautiful bird prized for it’s feathers by the Maori but it was a ground dweller where it hunted for huhu grubs in fallen logs and other grubs in the soil. The female had a beautiful curved beak and the male a straighter beak, it’s feathers were black, trimmed with white and it had a yellow plumage below the beak.

Before the Maori it sang to hail the dawn but the coming of the dog and the rat began the road to extinction. European settlers and introduced possums, stoats ferrets and weasels finished the fabulous huia off.

This picture book tells that story beginning with 12 huia, counting down to the last bird in rhyming verse as it vanishes off into the sky but there is hope as the bird lives in paintings songs and stories, but this should never happen again to another species.

Well told by Julian Stokoe and superbly illustrated by Stacy Eyles acrylic like paintings of the birds and their diminishing environment. There are some stunning pages none more so than the 9 Huia birds singing songs of love as  the supreme Maori chief seeks the huia’s feathers for his treasure box.

Great appeal for primary and intermediate school students with a powerful conservation message for everybody.

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