Kiwi meat: What it tastes like

Rare white kwi (Getty)
Rare white kwi (Getty)

We're not legally allowed to eat our national bird, the kiwi, but would you want to even if it was legal?

Following on from brand expert Nick Baylis's suggestion on the Paul Henry show that kiwis should be farmed to help increase their numbers:

Newshub has examined what the little birds would actually taste like.

Dr Paul Scofield, Senior Curator of Natural History at Canterbury Museum and author of the Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, told Newshub he's prepared a number of kiwis for taxidermy and that they would probably taste "disgusting".

"When you take the skin off a kiwi it has a layer of fat which in some cases is nearly an inch thick. You combine that incredibly fatty meat with their diet of worms and insects, and the fact that you can actually smell that they're rancid and fatty. The kiwi, I would strongly suspect, is a very unpleasant meat."

There is some speculation that because the kiwi is a ratite bird, and related to its far larger, and it turns out far tastier and extinct cousin the moa, its taste would be palatable.

But Dr Scofield has debunked this myth.

"Recent genetic work has shown that contrary to earlier belief, the moa is not the kiwi's closest relative. In fact, moa are the closest relative to a group of living, flying birds in South America called the Tinamous.

"Tinamous are very tasty indeed, in fact a number of their species are endangered because they're very popular for the pot. So it's very likely that moa meat was not like kiwi meat and in fact quite tasty," Dr Scofield said.

One question remains though, why were kiwi feathers common in the cloaks (Kakahu) of early Maori if they weren't eating the birds?

Dr Scofield has studied the remains of early Maori camp sites, and says "although the feathers of the kiwi were highly valued, it's remarkable how few kiwi bones you find, suggesting that they may not have been very popular for eating."

"The other side of that coin is the fact that they still would have been very tasty for the Maori dog, the Kuri, and it could have been that Maori may well have given the meat of the kiwi to their dogs," he says.

So there you have it, our little national bird would make a very unpleasant human meal, but could be suitable for pet food.