"Brit-Am Now"-699 (Kiwi)
1. Wayne Laurence: Kiwi bird incorrectly described
2. Facts about the Kiwi
(a) The bird
b. The Symbol
c. Vast Numbers Once Existed
d.  Kiwi Shoe Polish
e. The Nickname "Kiwi": bird, coin, and fruit

3. (a) The Pertinence to "Quail" in the Bible
(b) New Zealand birds like the Biblical "Quail" in in Numbers 11:30-32

1. Wayne Laurence: Kiwi bird incorrectly described
From: Wayne Laurence <wayne@bydand.co.nz>
Subject: Re: "Brit-Am Now"-698

From your website:  "New Zealanders are nicknamed KIWIS after a bird which
did not fly but walked around on the ground in flocks of vast numbers and so
was easy prey to the early settlers in a similar manner to the quail"

Hmmm! Not quite right Yair. It is correct that the Kiwi is flightless, but
is also nocturnal and does not, nor did not walk around in flocks of vast
numbers. I don't know who gave you this information, but they are quite

Wayne Laurence

Brit-Am reply: Thanks for the correction.
You remark led me to do some "surfing" on the web.
I found that birds in vast numbers that cannot fly or that fly very little
and as such are easy prey to human or animal predators
are in fact a UNIQUE CHARACTERISTIC of New Zealand!
I based what I wrote on recollections from what I had read in my schooldays
and so had apparently not properly absorbed what I was reading.
I now think I got mixed up with MOA which is a large turkey-like bird
that fell easy prey to the Maoris.
I will correct the article.
Nevertheless  I may not have been wrong and if I was then only in regard
to the expression "vast flocks".
I would like more information on this matter.

See our point no. 3 below

Kiwis though now living in monogamous pairs they may have lived in flocks in the
past. Animal and bird behavior is known to adapt to changing circumstances.

cf. What little I picked up from the following URLs:
"A gathering of kiwi is a rarity. However, on Stewart Island, they do live in small, mixed aged family groupings."

Prior to human settlement in New Zealand there may have been 12 million Kiwi. Before the coming of the Maori, the kiwi had no predators.

Scientists have gathered lots of information about the moa from fossils (bones) found all around New Zealand.

Top ten things everyone should know about the moa...
Theyre extinct. For several hundred years.
Some were BIG. As big as Big Bird from Sesame Street. But the smallest were not much bigger than turkeys.
They were eaten to extinction - along with other bird species, by Maori.
There were 11 different species. At the latest count anyway.
They were ratites. Other ratites include ostrich, emu, cassowary, rhea, and kiwi.
Most lived in forest, not grassland. They weren't feathered cows, and there was little grassland.
They probably didnt stand around with their heads in the air. Unlike some museum mounts. It makes them look impressive though.
You can still find their bones. Mostly in caves, swamps and sand dunes.
They arent the only extinct New Zealand bird. There are many other extinct New Zealand birds - rails, adzebill, wrens, eagle, etc.
Moa (singular and plural) is pronounced more like MORE than MOWER.

The moa was an obvious source of food in a land without land mammals (except for the bat).

There was also the huia and similar birds.

2. Facts about the Kiwi
(a) The bird
We boast the world's only flightless parrot (the kakapo), and a bird with nostrils at the end of its beak (the kiwi), also flightless. Safe from predatory mammals, birds ran free on the ground and several species lost the use of their wings. A host of other animals have retained their ancient forms. Wingless crickets, known as weta, grew to take the place of mice in the food chain as they foraged on the forest floor, and a primitive frog bears live young.

The KIWI Symbol of New Zealand: points of Interest
a. The bird: General Information
Kiwi Information

The following information was extracted from the publication "Threatened"
produced by BNZ in cooperation with the Department of Conservation
and Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

It's huge eggs. The kiwi has one of the largest egg-to-body weight ratio of any bird. The mature egg averages 20% of the female's body weight. Compare that to 2% for an ostrich!
Being the smallest living member of the ratite family (which includes ostriches and emus).
They live in pairs as monogamous couples for most, if not all of their lives.
Sex role reversal: The female is bigger and dominates the male.
In some varieties, the male does most of the incubating of the eggs.
The eggs take an exceedingly long time to hatch up to 80 days.

Kiwi Life

Kiwi tend to live in pairs, forming monogamous couples. These bonds are generally till death and have been known to last over 30 years. About every third day, the pair will shelter in the same burrow together. The relationship tends to be quite volatile and physical, the female generally calling the shots over her smaller partner.
Male kiwi call
Female kiwi call

During the night, as they are out foraging for food or patrolling their territory, they will perform duets, calling to each other. The female has a lower hoarser call than the male.

From the outside, it doesn't appear that kiwi domestic life is bliss. But the bond is long-lasting.

Kiwi are extremely territorial birds, They protect their patch which can be as much as 40 hectares by calling or, if that fails, by chasing the intruder kiwi and giving it a good booting over. Very occasionally, kiwi kill each other fighting for territory.

Acutely aware of neighbours, they will often engage in calling duels. If a bird is intruding into another's space, it will rush back at full speed into its own space before returning a neighbour's call.

A gathering of kiwi is a rarity. However, on Stewart Island, they do live in small, mixed aged family groupings.

Myth: "Kiwi are cute, gentle little creatures."
They are actually super-strong and often extremely bad tempered. The adults can look after themselves using their razor sharp claws as weapons. ...Because they are so aggressive, DOC staff can attract them simply by imitating their call. Incensed that another kiwi is on their turf, the response is instant and dramatic:
"It's amazing to hear them coming to kick the intruder out. They sound like a deer charging, almost exploding, through the dark. Standing there, it's quite intimidating. I guess it's part of the threat display."
"Pete" is a Great Spotted Kiwi in West Northland. "We've just got to walk into his territory and he comes catapulting in for a hit-and-run. He belts you in the leg and then runs off into the undergrowth. I think he views us as super-big kiwi. He's probably given some trampers a helluva scare."

Myth: "Kiwi are a bit thick."
According to Conservation Officers who know them best, they are capable of learning quickly and altering behaviour in the light of experience.

Myth: "Kiwi move slowly."
Superbly adapted to their natural habitat, the kiwi is extremely agile and quick moving. A kiwi can cover his territory possibly the size of 60 football fields in a night. This might take in three valley streams and all sorts of obstacles.

Myth: "Kiwi and half-blind."
The notion of their being half-blind probably stems from their being nocturnal and having small eyes. In fact, as Conservation Officers can testify, if you chase them at night, they can run very fast, swerving around trees and expertly navigating the undergrowth. Similarly, they are unfazed by daylight.

For Maori, kiwi are, in effect, our elder siblings. And, like a good older brother or sister, they are very protective of us. That's partly why they patrol the forests nightly.

Kiwi -- Six Unique Varieties

For further information ...
New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) at http://www.doc.govt.nz.

b. The Symbol
Nice pictures of stamps and coins showing the Kiwi

As a national icon, images of the kiwi are ubiquitous in New Zealand; far more common than the actual birds. Kiwi logos are used by national organisations such as the national Rugby League team, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Buy New Zealand Made campaign, and many others. See Kiwi (disambiguation).

The Kiwi as an emblem first appeared late last century in New Zealand regimental badges. Badges of the South Canterbury Battalion in 1886 and the Hastings Rifle Volunteers in 1887 both featured kiwis. Later, kiwis appeared in a great number of military badges. In 1887 the new Auckland University College (opened 1883) featured on their Coat of Arms three kiwis, symbolising the confinement of the kiwi to the islands of New Zealand. Students of the University in 1905, began publishing a magazine called The Kiwi which survived until the mid 1960s.

The Kiwi symbol began to be recognised internationally in 1906 when Kiwi Shoe Polish was launched in Melbourne by a man with a New Zealand born wife.  The polish was widely marketed in Britain and the USA during World War I and later. By 1908, kiwis were appearing in numerous sporting, political, and other newspaper cartoons.

During the First World War, New Zealanders carved a giant kiwi on the chalk hill above Sling Camp in England. In Flanders during the war, the name Kiwi for New Zealand soldiers came into general use. By the Second World War, the Kiwi was synonymous with New Zealand Servicemen overseas. During the war, the Kiwi Concert Party toured many battle areas. The Kiwi (New Zealand Army) Football Team which toured the British Isles, France and Germany in 1945-46 also enchanced the emblems popularity.

Today, New Zealanders overseas (and at home) are still invariably called Kiwis. The Kiwi is still closely associated with the Armed Forces. The New Zealand dollar is often referred to as the The Kiwi and the kiwi fruit is known as a Kiwi in some countries. Kiwis feature in the coat of arms, crests and badges of many New Zealand cities, clubs and organisations.

c. Vast Numbers Once Existed
Prior to human settlement in New Zealand there may have been 12 million Kiwi. Before the coming of the Maori, the kiwi had no predators.

d.  Kiwi Shoe Polish
Kiwi shoe polish

In 1906, William Ramsay had developed an unusually fine boot polish to which he gave the name KIWI. The choice of the name KIWI as a trademark was a tribute to Williams wife who was a native of New Zealand, home of the KIWI bird and New Zealand's national emblem. During Ramsay's visit to New Zealand he had noticed the quaint, wingless birds with their crisp, glossy plumage. The kiwi bird design looked good on the small round tin, and the name was easy to see and attractive to look at.

Today KIWI is sold and marketed in almost 200 countries around the world. With several state-of-the-art new product innovations, KIWI remains the worlds number one shoe care brand.

e. The Nickname "Kiwi": bird, coin, and fruit
Kiwis and kiwis
New Zealand's first settlers, the Maori, named the kiwi bird for the sound of its chirp - kiwi, kiwi, kiwi! This flightless bird, about the size of a domestic hen, has an extremely long beak and plumage that is more like hair than feathers. New Zealanders have adopted this nocturnal, flightless and endearing creature as their national emblem.

Referring to New Zealanders as Kiwis probably dates back to the First World War, when New Zealand soldiers first acquired this nickname.

In the international financial markets, New Zealands basic currency unit, the New Zealand dollar, is frequently called the kiwi The dollar coin features a kiwi bird on one side.

Perhaps the best-known kiwi is the delicious kiwifruit. Originating in China, kiwifruit were grown in New Zealand domestic gardens for decades as Chinese gooseberries. However, when enterprising New Zealand farmers began propagating the fruit intensively for export, it was given the name kiwifruit and has since achieved worldwide fame.

(a) The Pertinence to "Quail" in the Bible
New Zealanders are nicknamed KIWIS after a bird which does not fly but runs around on the ground and once existed in vast numbers and so was easy prey to the early settlers in a similar manner to the quail (Numbers 11:30-32).
The quail were an enormous flock of birds that miraculously descended onto the ground around the Encampment of the Children of Israel when they came out of Egypt and the Israelites were able to just gather them up without effort.
The Hebrew word translated as "quail" is "slav". We do not know if this was the quail we are familiar with or another bird. It has happened in the Sinai Desert that vast flocks birds on their migratory path land to rest in large numbers and are temporarily too exhausted to move and so fall easy prey to whoever is interested in catching them.

Another bird in New Zealand which did not fly and once was extremely numerous is the Moa which was like a turkey but is now extinct.
The existence of such birds that cannot fly or fly only little was in fact a characteristic of New Zealand where with the lack of natural predators birds filled the ecological niche that elsewhere was taken by other animals.
Birds in vast numbers that cannot fly or that fly very little and as such are easy prey to human or animal predators are in fact a UNIQUE CHARACTERISTIC of New Zealand!

(b) New Zealand birds like the Biblical "Quail" in in Numbers 11:30-32

    Perhaps more than any country in the world, New Zealand was a land of birds.   With no snakes, no large reptiles and no land mammals apart from two small bats, birds filled all of the ecological niches occupied elsewhere by other animals.   For this reason, New Zealand was home of the largest bird which ever lived, the moa, one species of which stood 11 feet tall and weighed up to 450 pounds, as well as the largest eagle to ever live, Haast's eagle.   The moa occupied the same niche as grazing animals like deer and antelopes, and Haast's eagle was the apex predator, the equivalent of the big cats of Africa, Asia and the Americas.

    Because of the lack of predators, about a third of New Zealand birds were flightless.  Naturally enough, all eleven species of moa were flightless, but so were many smaller forest birds like kiwis, wekas, takahes and dozens of others.   The long isolation of New Zealand birds from other land masses resulted in many unique forms arising, like the kiwi, the only bird with nostrils at the end of its beak, and the world's largest egg compared to the size of the bird; the wrybill, the only bird whose beak bends sideways; the kea, the world's only alpine parrot, as happy in the snow and ice as in the forest; and the flightless kakapo, which looks like an owl but is actually the world's largest parrot, and has an unearthly deeply resonant booming song which can carry for five kilometers.

     Sadly, humans not only destroyed much of the native habitat, they also introduced mammalian predators into this paradise.   The Polynesian voyagers called maori introduced Polynesian rats which preyed on the eggs and chicks of ground nesting birds, and the maori themselves exterminated the moa.   Europeans caused even more devastation, bringing even larger rats and other rodents, grazing animals like deer which completely stripped the forest undergrowth, as well as predators such as cats, stoats and ferrets.   Roughly half of the bird species became extinct, but thankfully there are still a number of common birds which New Zealanders all know and think of as part of their cultural inheritance.