The Mystery Bird – Documentary

The Mystery Bird is a documentary film on the endangered Hutton’s shearwater produced by Claire Clements and Sean Giffin.

The Hutton’s shearwater was long known to Māori, providing a major sustainable source of protein to Ngāti Kuri in the area. The species was first officially described in 1912, and later there were anecdotal reports from high country farmers and hunters of ‘muttonbird’ burrows at high elevations in the Seaward Kaikōura Range, behind Kaikōura. In 1965, following on from these leads, Geoff Harrow found carcasses in the headwaters of the Kowhai River at altitudes between 1,200 and 1,800 m above sea level, that were confirmed as Hutton’s shearwaters. Extensive searching led to the confirmation of eight colonies, but only two remnant colonies remain today. At least ten colonies formerly existed in both the Seaward Kaikōura and Inland Kaikōura Ranges, and potentially further afield beyond these mountains.