Stolen huia feathers worth $40,000
Valuable tail feathers from a stuffed huia have been stolen from a Dannevirke museum
By Charlotte Shipman
Valuable tail feathers from a stuffed huia have been stolen from a rural museum.
It is estimated the handful of feathers from the extinct bird could be worth around $40,000, but those who have been guardians of the bird fear the loss of heritage value is much greater.
The theft of the huia's tail feathers is now part of a police investigation.
“It's part of our heritage, our history, it's something we can't recapture so we're hoping someone out there has a conscience or someone knows who has taken it,” says Senior Sergeant Sue Leach.
The 123-year-old feathers were stolen from the Dannevirke Gallery of History where two of the birds have been displayed for 25 years.
Pat Mills works at the museum and says it is the first theft they have had since it opened in 1987.
“When it was discovered I just felt sick to the stomach.”
“I was absolutely devastated.”
Entry to the museum is just $2 but the feathers are worth much more.
In 2010 a single huia feather sold at auction for $8400.
It is not known exactly how may tail feathers are gone but they could be worth around $40,000.
“There are very few that are in such good conditions are these ones were,” says Mr Mills.
The native birds became extinct in the early 1900s.
The museum’s two birds are thought to have been the last in the Pohangina Valley and were shot in 1889 as a wedding gift.
Police are also considering DNA testing the remaining feathers, so the stolen ones can easily be matched to the bird if they are found.