Two shipments of kiwi feathers have been sent back from 12 zoos in the United States for use by traditional Maori kairaranga or weavers.
The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington organised the collection to find a use for feathers from moulting kiwi kept in American zoos.
The Brown Kiwi Species Survival Plan aims to ship kiwi feathers to New Zealand once a year.
Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman Roger Smith, who used to work in the New Zealand embassy in Washington, says the idea came from Kathy Brader, a senior bird keeper at the Smithonian zoo.
He says she was inspired to give something back to New Zealand, which had provided her with the opportunity to care for kiwi.
Mr Smith says the feathers - which were blessed on Friday at Auckland Zoo - will be given to the Department of Conservation to pass on to weavers.