Museum staff ask for information on stolen huia bird

Dannevirke Gallery of History President Nancy Wadsworth, left, and Vice President Murray Holden hope to one day recover a stolen huia bird.

DAVID UNWIN / Tips

Dannevirke Gallery of History President Nancy Wadsworth, left, and Vice President Murray Holden hope to one day recover a stolen huia bird.

The owners of a priceless stuffed huia bird stolen from a museum in Tararua still hope to see the bird return.

A huia was stolen from the Dannevirke History Gallery in July last year and has been missing since.

Dean Bradley Mudgway was sentenced in June to 19 months in prison for various offenses, including the theft of the huia. He did not reveal where the extinct stuffed bird may be.

Jayden Lucas Matthew Paewai, is also accused of stealing the huia and is due to stand trial by judge alone later in October.

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Gallery president Nancy Wadsworth and vice president Murray Holden were still traumatized by the flight, but they would accept the bird’s return without question.

Holden said if anyone had any information on his whereabouts or even wanted to anonymize the bird, he would be happy.

“We think someone over there has information. We think it may still be around Tararua district, but we don’t know for sure.

“Someone obviously has it, it’s a precious possession to them.”

The last confirmed sighting of a living huia dates back to 1907, and the bird was cherished by Maori and pākehā.

Wadsworth said the birds had been in the museum for a long time and she was disgusted with the theft.

She said the bird was valued at around $ 16,000, but was priceless.

“It’s just a shame. It means so much.

The remaining male huia is without its mate.

DAVID UNWIN / Tips

The remaining male huia is without its mate.

The missing bird is a female and part of a pair. The remaining bird is a male.

“We end up with a poor male, he is waiting for his mate alone,” Holden added.

Security at the museum, in the city’s former courthouse, has been tightened since the theft.

This was not the first time the huia had been targeted, with feathers stolen from one of the birds in 2012.

Judge Jonathan Krebs said during Mugdway’s sentencing that the bird may never be found.

Mudgway told a PSR writer he stole all of the articles to fund his meth use.

He was addicted to methamphetamine for 25 years but wanted to break free from the drug’s grip. He was not ordered to pay reparations because he had no way of paying them.

Both birds were shot in the Pohangina Valley, north of Palmerston North, in 1889 and mounted as a wedding gift before being given to the museum.


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