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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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World’s Most Expensive Feather Auctioned For $28,417 In New Zealand

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A single feather from the now-extinct huia bird of New Zealand has sold for NZD$46,521.50 ($28,417) at an auction, setting a world record.

The feather shattered the previous record, set by a feather of the same species, by 450%. It was originally predicted to bring up to $3,000. For the Māori community, the huia bird held great significance. Chiefs and their families frequently wore their feathers as headdresses and exchanged or gifted them.

The Museum of New Zealand states that unverified sightings were recorded for twenty to thirty years following its final confirmed sighting in 1907.

The huia, a petite songbird belonging to the wattlebird family in New Zealand, was renowned for its stunning plumage that stands out due to the white tip that runs over the edge, and ability to jump.

According to Leah Morris, Head of Decorative Arts at Webb’s Auction House, the feather that sold on Monday was “in wonderful condition. It still has its very distinct sheen to it, and there was no insect damage.” She continues, saying the piece will have a “really long life” because the auction house framed it with archival paper and UV protection glass.

The feather is registered under a system designed to safeguard Maori-made artifacts as a taonga tūturu. It could only be acquired by licensed collectors within the system, and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage must grant authorization for it to be exported.

According to Morris, a high level of interest and enthusiasm from New Zealanders contributed to the price increase.

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