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Bird of a Single Flight

Short Film (Full Length) – 1969

Renowned ornithologist and Dominion Museum head Robert Falla goes into the field to present this first edition of National Film Unit’s Land of Birds. His subject is the kōtuku or white heron, nesting in swamp forest by Ōkārito Lagoon, Westland — the only New Zealand breeding colony. In Māori lore the heron is the sacred 'He kotuku rerenga tahi' or 'bird of single flight', owing to its rare sightings. Grant Foster’s beautifully shot survey of the kōtuku’s Ōkārito summer housing screened on TV in 1972, and won a 1973 Feltex Award for Best Natural History Programme.

Because of its rarity the Maori chose a large white bird, which they called ‘kōtuku’ as a symbol of beauty, grace and dignity.
– Presenter Robert Falla

Key Cast & Crew

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Grant Foster

Director, Writer, Camera

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Ron Bowie


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Robert Falla


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Val Federoff

Sound re-recording

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Geoffrey Scott

Executive Producer

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Murray Brown

Location Sound

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