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Sight and Sound: Beyond the Huia Extinction Story



In Aotearoa (New Zealand), a legacy of colonialist government explorations for vanishing species, including Huia, an endemic and cross-culturally emblematic wattlebird, privileges sighting over hearing birds, a practice incommensurable with Māori epistemology. In 1923, an “official” 1907 extinction narrative emerged. Along with genocidal expectations, this narrative erases later Huia reports. Although likely erroneous, this normalized story continues to dominate public spaces. As settlers, we respectfully amplify the plural voice of Māori culture that “has never been silent” in two recent waiata Māori songs honoring Huia as kin, binding living and dead, and encouraging justly co-constituted relations.