Definition of huia in US English:



  • An extinct New Zealand wattlebird with glossy black plumage, the female having a much longer and more curved bill than the male. The tail feathers were formerly prized by Maoris, and the last huia was seen in 1907.

    Heteralocha acutirostris, family Callaeidae

    • ‘It is believed Smith was the last person to have seen the now-extinct huia, whose tail feathers were used by Maori chiefs as a symbol of their mana.’
    • ‘Their real-life counterparts the huia, the bush wren, the grayling - the list goes on - were driven out of their natural habitats, exposed to predators or hunted to extinction, often wantonly.’
    • ‘No one will ever again see a living huia, or a piopio.’
    • ‘But since the huia was extinct, I had to search for years for another species that would enable me to investigate that hypothesis.’
    • ‘Ornithologists and naturalists, including the renowned nineteenth-century illustrator John Gould, originally classified male and female huias as two different species.’


Mid 19th century: from Maori, imitative of its cry.