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A pair of silver kiwi - New Zealand's wedding gift to Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon - fetched £36,000 ($107,800) at auction in London overnight.

Auctioneers Christie's had estimated the kiwi, designed by Professor John Simpson of the Canterbury University arts school, would sell for up to £900.

Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand, was among the unsuccessful bidders for the silver kiwi.

Spokesman Paul Brewer would not say how much Te Papa bid.

"It was a realistic one, given the valuation that was issued, but clearly significantly less than the kiwi sold for," he said.

He had no idea who bought the kiwi for 40 times their valuation.

"There are a number of very wealthy people for whom those figures mean nothing," he said.

The Government had not purchased the kiwi, a spokesman for Prime Minister Helen Clark said.

The Government had raised concerns with Buckingham Palace when it learned that the wedding present, given to the royal couple when they married in 1960, was going up for auction with another 46 state gifts.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said at the time that the Government's action "may explain the Queen's intervention to ensure the proceeds went to charity".

The late Princess Margaret's children, Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, said the sale of her jewellery, furniture and other possessions was to pay off inheritance taxes of more than £3 million.

Princess Margaret died in 2002, leaving £7.6 million to her children.

With the auction still under way early this morning NZ time, Ms Freyberg said it had raised about £13.5 million so far.

Christie's spokeswoman Christina Freyberg declined to say who had bought the kiwi, citing company policy, but confirmed the proceeds from the kiwi's sale would go to charity.

"It's an exceptional result and I know Lord Linley is absolutely delighted to give such large sums from the proceeds of the auction to charity," she said.

- NZPA