Wellington author's history of the birds of New Zealand
Chapter nine of Geoff Norman's stunningly illustrated 2018 book "Birdstories" dives deep into the eagles and falcons of Aotearoa.
Sofia Minson's painting "Hu-u, the sound of the wings" featuring the now extinct Pouakai, Hokioi or Haast eagle, was one of the artworks chosen to explore this majestic bird.
An artistic point of view
Norman's thoroughly researched compilation describes the origin stories of our native birds from both Māori and Pākehā perspectives.
Rich with historical and contemporary photographs, paintings and drawings, the book explores the contribution of bird life to our human lives and the art they have inspired.
"I am so grateful to see my art amongst the work of such revered New Zealand artists in this book such as Don Binney, Robin White and Bill Hammond."
- Sofia Minson
The largest eagle in the world
The Pouakai or Haast eagle is the largest raptor ever recorded, with a wingspan of up to 3 metres and weighing as much as 18 kilograms.
"Its disproportionately large claws, together with evidence of damaged moa pelvic bones, indicate that it preyed on moa as heavy as 250 kilograms; for vertebrates this is a remarkable difference in size between predator and prey."
- Geoff Norman, Birdstories, pg 128
An extinction potentially pre-dating Māori
"Sir George Grey recounted a story he had heard from Māori about an extinct gigantic raptor known as the hokioi, which had black plumage tinged with yellow and green, an red feathers on the top of its head."
- George Norman, "Birdstories," pg 127
Hu-u, the sound of the wings
Sofia's painting was inspired by an old legend of the hokioi, in which it challenged its rival the kāhu to a trip to the heavens and back.
The painting gazes out over glacial lake Pukaki to Aoraki Mt Cook. The surreal lake glows in turquoise against a moody grey sky and the undulating boulders hold the presence of Papatūānuku (earth mother).