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My Six Months at New Zealand Bird Rescue

 

 

From February to September last year I was lucky enough to be able to spend 9 Months living and working in the incredible country of New Zealand.

After spending 2 years enjoying the beauty of Australia, New Zealand would be an interesting change of scenery, and turned out to be so incredibly different from the harsh landscape of Australia.

I spent most of my time in Auckland working for the council, but on Sundays I would spend my day volunteering with the amazing variety of Birds at New Zealand Bird Rescue a brilliant charity run by an incredible group of volunteers and founders.

New Zealand Bird rescue is unique in that it does not discriminate against any bird, all are welcome from the native New Zealand birds like the Tui to the common house sparrow. 

 

A bird we would commonly see would sadly be very sick Mallard ducks, who would be admitted in large numbers suffering from Avian Botulism a disease caused by ingestion of a Toxin. Sadly the death rate would be quite high and the Mallards would suffer from Paralysis, caring for them was a 24 hour job which involved constant cleaning, tube feeding and administration of meds.

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favourites to the centre would be the Little Blue Penguin a bird native to the coastlines of Southern Australia and New Zealand also known in the Maori language as Korora. This little guy was washed up on a beach and just needed a little rehabilitation to regain his strength over the winter months before being released in the spring time. Little Blue Penguins are the smallest species of Penguin growing to an average height of 33cms. 

 

 

 

 

Another of my favourites was the rather unique looking Tui, a bird with one of the most eclectic bird songs I have ever heard, It is a sound that everyone should hear at least once. It consists of clicks, cackles, chirps and whistles. Tui’s are highly intelligent and have a unique tuft of white feathers on their necks.

 

 

While In New Zealand I got to learn a lot about the Maori culture (The Indigenous people of New Zealand) What I loved most about their culture is the incredibly rich mythology and one of the stories I came to learn was that of the Kiwi Bird and how he lost his ability to fly…

One day, Tanemahuta was walking through the forest. He looked up at his children reaching for the sky and he noticed that they were starting to sicken, as bugs were eating them.

He talked to his brother, Tanehokahoka, who called all of his children, the birds of the air together.

Tanemahuta spoke to them.

“Something is eating my children, the trees. I need one of you to come down from the forest roof and live on the floor, so that my children can be saved, and your home can be saved. Who will come?”

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.

Tanehokahoka turned to Tui.

“E Tui, will you come down from the forest roof?”

Tui looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Tui looked down at the forest floor and saw the cold, dark earth and shuddered.

“Kao, Tanehokahoka, for it is too dark and I am afraid of the dark.”

Tanehokahoka turned to Pukeko.

“Pukeko, will you come down from the forest roof?”

Pukeko looked down at the forest floor and saw the cold, damp earth and shuddered.

“Kao, Tanehokahoka, for it is too damp and I do not want to get my feet wet.”

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.

Tanehokahoka turned to Pipiwharauroa.

“Pipiwharauroa, will you come down from the forest roof?”

Pipiwharauroa looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Pipiwharauroa looked around and saw his family.

 

“Kao, Tanehokahoka, for I am busy at the moment building my nest.”

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke. And great was the sadness in the heart of Tanehokahoka, for he knew, that if one of his children did not come down from the forest roof, not only would his brother loose his children, but the birds would have no home.

Tanehokahoka turned to Kiwi.

“E kiwi, will you come down from the forest roof?”

Kiwi looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Kiwi looked around and saw his family. Kiwi looked at the cold damp earth. Looking around once more, he turned to Tanehokahoka and said,

“I will.”

Great was the joy in the hearts of Tanehokahoka and Tanemahuta, for this little bird was giving them hope. But Tanemahuta felt that he should warn kiwi of what would happen.

“E kiwi, do you realise that if you do this, you will have to grow thick, strong legs so that you can rip apart the logs on the ground and you will loose your beautiful coloured feathers and wings so that you will never be able to return to the forest roof. You will never see the light of day again.”

All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.

“E kiwi, will you come down from the forest roof?”

Kiwi took one last look at the sun filtering through the trees and said a silent goodbye. Kiwi took one last look at the other birds, their wings and their coloured feathers and said a silent goodbye. Looking around once more, he turned to Tanehokahoka and said,

“I will.”

Then Tanehokahoka turned to the other birds and said,

“E Tui, because you were too scared to come down from the forest roof, from now on you will wear the two white feathers at your throat as the mark of a coward.

Pukeko, because you did not want to get your feet wet, you will live forever in the swamp.

Pipiwharauroa, because you were too busy building your nest, from now on you will never build another nest again, but lay your eggs in other birds’ nests.

But you kiwi, because of your great sacrifice, you will become the most well known and most loved bird of them all.”

Story can be found at… http://hoopermuseum.earthsci.carleton.ca/flightless/losewing.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only did I get to enjoy volunteering with some incredible animals I also got to travel and see a lot of New Zealand’s incredible landscape. I would say it is possible one of the most beautiful countries I have been privileged enough to see.  I hope you enjoyed my insight into my time there.

Written by Hayley Bannister (SVN at Whitton)

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