Story: Birds of mountains and open country

Kea on a sheep

Kea on a sheep

This drawing, published in the Lyttelton Times in 1882, shows a kea riding on the back of a sheep. Kea had a reputation for pecking through the fleece and skin to take fat from around a sheep’s kidneys. While this might not kill the animal immediately, often a fatal blood infection followed. During a series of hard winters when sheep often died by foundering in snow or starving to death, some farmers pinned the blame on kea. To appease this important voting lobby, a bounty was placed on the birds, leading to a heavy reduction in their numbers.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Making New Zealand Centennial Collection (PAColl-3060)
Reference: PUBL-0223-184

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Christina Troup, 'Birds of mountains and open country - Kea and people', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 June 2024)

Story by Christina Troup, published 24 Sep 2007, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015