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Gifts and treasures from New Zealand


Kiwi feather cape (kahu kiwi) 1954

RCIN 74630

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The kiwi bird is indigenous to New Zealand and holds special significance for Maori, acting as a messenger between the spiritual and physical realms. Capes made from finely woven kiwi feathers consequently hold great prestige and mana (authority). This example was worn by Queen Elizabeth II during her first visit to New Zealand in 1954. She and The Duke of Edinburgh (b. 1921) were given the garments at a traditional Maori welcome at Arawa Park, following demonstrations of the haka and a poi song sung by Maori girls. The royal couple have often worn their capes on subsequent visits to the country, including for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1990.