24 Oct 2020

Rare display of extinct bird's nest at heritage festival

1:55 pm on 24 October 2020

Christchurch's Heritage Festival starts today and a display of the world's last remaining huia nest will be among the highlights.

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The huia bird is extinct. Photo: Keulemans Te Papa

The event which runs through till 8 November has 50 events throughout the city.

To mark the event Canterbury Museum has dug out 31 rare treasures that have not been on display in years to be part of the exhibition House of Treasures: Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho.

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Photo: Christchurch City Council / Newsline

The boots Sir Edmund Hillary wore when he summitted Mount Everest and the dress Kate Sheppard wears on the $10 note will be displayed as well as the only remaining nest of the extinct native huia bird.

Museum Director Anthony Wright said the treasures are rarely seen.

"Some of these objects don't go on display very often, either because they're too delicate like the Kate Sheppard dress or because we just don't have the space."

One of the oldest human made objects in the collection, an Acheulean hand-axe likely crafted by an ancient human species up to 450,000 years ago, will also be displayed, Wright said.

"The huia nest is one of my absolute favourites. It's the only known nest in the world, which makes for very poignant viewing."

Another exhibit on display for the Heritage Festival is Sifting The Ashes: The Great Fire of Lyttelton which looks into what happened in the suburb on 24 October 1870.

On that night a fire started in an empty house on Lyttelton's Oxford Street and quickly spread through nearby ships until both sides of London Street were burning.

Despite desperate measures by the local firefighters most of the township was caught up in the fire.

Occurred on 24 October 1870

Photo: Christchurch City Council

The exhibition has been put together by Lyttelton Library staff for the heritage festival.

Christchurch City Council head of libraries Carolyn Robertson said the community has a strong interest in local history.

"The fire was a momentous event and one that many Christchurch residents might not be aware of.

"The heritage festival is an opportunity to remember and inform people about the city's past. There are so many stories to explore and uncover and some great resources available through the library to use for research."

At the time it was the worst urban fire in New Zealand's history, she said.

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