How the kiwi lost its wings
In Maori mythology, the kiwi’s ancestor helped Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) save the trees, which were being eaten by bugs and beginning to sicken. All the birds were called together and asked if one would come down from the forest canopy to live on the forest floor and help save the trees. Tui refused because it was afraid of the darkness on the ground; Pukeko refused because it found the forest floor too damp and Pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, refused because it was too busy building its nest. But Kiwi agreed – it grew thick, strong legs to rip apart logs and it lost its coloured feathers and wings. Since then, Tui has worn two white feathers at its throat, the mark of a coward; Pukeko has lived forever in a swamp, with wet feet; and Pipiwharauroa has never built another nest – instead it lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. Because of Kiwi’s great sacrifice, it has become the most-loved bird of all.
Sign of a coward? Tui has a white throat tuft.