|The Death of Captain James Cook
|137.2 cm × 182.9 cm (54.0 in × 72.0 in)
|National Maritime Museum, London
The ʻAhu ʻula ( feather cloak in the Hawaiian language),  and the mahiole (feather helmet) were symbols of the highest rank of the chiefly aliʻi  class of ancient Hawaii. The feathered cloaks and capes provided physical protection, and were believed to provide spiritual protection for their wearers.   There are over 160 examples of this traditional clothing in museums around the world.  At least six of these cloaks were collected during the voyages of Captain Cook.  These cloaks are made from a woven netting decorated with bird feathers and are examples of fine featherwork techniques. One of these cloaks was included in a painting of Cook's death by Johann Zoffany.
The coloring was achieved using different types of feathers. Black and yellow came from four species of bird called ʻōʻōs. All species had become extinct by 1987, with the probable cause being disease. Black feathers were also sourced from the two species of mamo, which are also now both extinct. The distinctive red feathers came from the ʻIʻiwi and the ʻApapane. Both species can still be found in Hawaii, but in much reduced numbers. Although birds were exploited for their feathers, the effect on the population is thought to be minimal.  The birds are said to have not been killed but, rather, caught by specialist bird catchers, a few feathers harvested, and the birds then released. 
Hundreds of thousands of feathers were required for each cloak. A small bundle of feathers was gathered and tied into the netting. Bundles were tied in close proximity to form a uniform covering of the surface of the cloak.  
When British explorer James Cook visited in Hawai‘i on 26 January 1778 he was received by a high chief Kalaniʻōpuʻu. At the end of the meeting Kalaniʻōpuʻu placed the feathered mahiole and cloak he had been wearing on Cook.  Kalaniʻōpuʻu also laid several other cloaks at Cook's feet as well as four large pigs and other offerings of food. Much of the material from Cook's voyages including the helmet and cloak ended up in the collection of Sir Ashton Lever. He exhibited them in his museum, the Holophusikon.  It was while at this museum that Cook's mahiole and cloak were borrowed by artist Johann Zoffany in the 1790s and included in his painting The Death of Captain James Cook. 
Lever went bankrupt and his collection was disposed of by public lottery. The collection was obtained by James Parkinson who continued to exhibit it, at the Blackfriars Rotunda in London. He eventually sold the collection in 1806 in 7,000 separate sales.  The mahiole and cloak were purchased by the collector William Bullock who exhibited them in his own museum until 1819 when the collection was again sold. The mahiole and cloak were then purchased by Charles Winn along with a number of other items and these remained in his family until 1912, when Charles Winn's grandson, Rowland Winn, 2nd Baron St Oswald, gave them to the Dominion of New Zealand. They are now in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
The Bishop Museum in Honolulu has a 200-year-old mahiole and matching cloak. This bright red and yellow cloak was given to the king of Kauaʻi, Kaumualiʻi, when he became a vassal to Kamehameha I in 1810, uniting all the islands into the Hawaiian Kingdom. 
The de Young Museum in San Francisco displayed several of these cloaks in a special exhibition in 2015.
The Te Papa in New Zealand has three ʻahu ʻula in its collection. All were gifts of Rowland Winn, 2nd Baron St Oswald, in 1912.    The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa believes that one of these cloaks was placed on Captain James Cook by the Hawaiian chief Kalani’ōpu’u.