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Hero image for Tales from Te Papa - The Tale of the Hakawai

Tales from Te Papa - The Tale of the Hakawai

Television (Full Length Episode) – 2011

In this mini-documentary, Riria Hotere speaks to Te Papa curator Colin Miskelly about the mythical man-eating hakawai. Named for its call, the hakawai was probably a snipe. The snipe was forced to the country's outer islands by the arrival of kiore (rats). A few snipe remained on the outlying Subantarctic, Chatham and other islands, but the Stewart Island snipe (aka the South Island snipe) became extinct in the 1960s. Curator and snipe expert Colin Miskelly shares a rare recording of the bird's hair-raising call, known for terrifying muttonbirders, and gives insight into just how the bird might make its hair-raising roar. 

...it was literally hair-raising, and part of that was that I knew the story of the Hakawai and all of its mythical connotations. So just having that all come together with actually hearing it for the first time, it was a really thrilling experience.
– Te Papa curator Colin Miskelly on hearing the snipe for the first time

Key Cast & Crew

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Adam Sondej


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Gary Scott


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Philippa Mossman

Network Executive

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Gretchen Peterson


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Riria Hotere

Online Editor