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1001 Stories Collection

How the Kiwi lost his wings

Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition New Zealand folktale

When no-one else would, Kiwi stepped up to help save the trees. Because of the sacrifice Kiwi made it became a much loved bird.


A story which explains not only why the Kiwi is flightless but also why she is the most famous and best loved of the birds – and also why Tui has white feathers at his throat, why Pukeko lives in a swamp and why Pipiwharauro lays eggs in other birds’ nests.

Why we chose it

This was one of the stories chosen for our World Stories project with St Ebbes School in 2016. The stories were represented on fabric hangings made by artist Ally Baker which can still be found hanging in the museum.

Where it came from

This is a Maori legend from New Zealand.

Where it went next

The Kiwi has become the national emblem of New Zealand.

Associated stories

Stories that explain the characteristics of various animals and birds can be found in many story telling traditions. Our 1001 story collection includes a number of ‘how’ stories. How the Kangaroo Got Her Pouch tells of how the kangaroo got a pouch to keep her joey in. Finding Australia explains the whale’s blow hole, the shape of the starfish and the powerful tree-climbing arms of the koala. How Coyote Stole Fire, a North American story, explains the white tip of the coyote’s tail, the shape of the squirrel’s tail, the stripes on the chipmunk’s back and why the frog has no tail at all.

Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition New Zealand folktale