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Featured objects

Mantell's Kiwi

User AvatarPosted by Joe Raine at 12/07/2021 10:12:41
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This week’s featured object is a real cutey! Meet our kiwi.  

When this specimen was donated, it was recorded as “Mantell’s Kiwi”, but it is now more commonly known as the North Island Brown Kiwi. Kiwis are the iconic bird of New Zealand, and they can only be found on its many islands. For numerous years, the kiwi was the emblem of New Zealand, and the name ‘Kiwi’ was used to represent the nation. During the First World War, Australian troops, began to use the term to describe its people as well, and the name stuck.  

The North Island Brown Kiwi is the most common of the five kiwi species, but even so, it is listed as vulnerable. The curious nature of the kiwi, paired with its inability to fly, has often resulted in an unfortunate end at the hands of humans and in the jaws of their dogs or mistakenly introduced predators. For centuries, New Zealand was isolated from human contact, in fact it was devoid of mammals of any sort. The uniquely diverse wildlife evolved in a completely different way to the rest of the world. Many birds had no need to fly, like the kiwi, and lost this ability altogether. Even the feathers of the kiwi are more like hair and their tails are no longer present. 

But how did Poole Museum come to care for this antipodean beauty? Kiki, as we like to call it, was donated by Mrs E. Salkeld. Ela Salkeld was born in 1866, in Christchurch, New Zealand. She but moved to England with her family in 1910 and their family home ‘Camus’ was in Parkstone. Her father, originally from Dorset, moved to New Zealand in 1860. He too donated many New Zealand birds, including another kiwi, to the museum. Between them, 36 birds from New Zealand found their way to Poole’s old museum on Mount Street. 

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