New Zealand – Wizards, Politicians and Birds We’ve Nicked from Other Countries

New Zealand is a unique little country, sitting in an unassuming manner at the very bottom of the world. Or in my opinion, at the top of the world, if other countries would only face reality and turn their atlases up the right way. We’re one of the first countries in the world to see the break of dawn, after all. Our national colour is black, our national flower is a fern and our national bird couldn’t fly if you threw it off a cliff.

I can't fly - please don't throw me off that cliff...

I can’t fly – please don’t throw me off that cliff…

New Zealand is unique in several other ways – we can count amongst our leading politicians – past or present – a transgender, a lesbian or two, several gay men, a dreadlocked fellow whose name is downright unpronounceable, and another unpretentious fellow with a lopsided face who was our Prime Minister for a while, and then did a stint as narrator of the musical The Rocky Horror show, written by Richard O’Brien who grew up here.

The world-renowned Rocky Horror Picture Show featuring Tim Curry. A nice wee piece of Kiwi culture...

The world-renowned Rocky Horror Picture Show featuring Tim Curry. A nice wee piece of Kiwi culture…

We also have an Official Wizard of New Zealand, declared so by another of our Prime Ministers in 1990. A be-robed chap with a magnificent pointy hat, he is well-known here for his soapbox-style rantings on a ladder in the Cathedral Square, Christcurch, and his drought-breaking rain dances, amongst other services. In 1982 the New Zealand Art Gallery Directors Association issued a statement that in their opinion the Wizard was an Authentic Living Work of Art. Nice work, if you can get it…

Wizard of New Zealand outside the Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand. Unfortunately, this cathedral was destroyed in a series of large earthquakes in 2011. Photo thanks to Helmut Pfau.

Wizard of New Zealand outside the Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand. Unfortunately, this cathedral was destroyed in a series of large earthquakes in 2011. Photo thanks to Helmut Pfau.

I recently read another inspiring blog post by 23thorns on birds of the Lowveld, South Africa. It got me thinking about the birds of New Zealand. We only have a few of our own. We’ve borrowed a few though. We have the Morepork, which we share with Australia, a shy little owl, not seen much but often heard. It’s so named for its demands for ‘more pork’ – or so it sounds like – at night-time. I am a bear of little brain and I am easily amused by this little fellow who sits in a tree crying ‘Morepork. Morepork. Morepork Morepork Morepork!!!!!’ You can listen to a one here. And here’s a wee silly poem I wrote about one – Excuse Me Mr Morepork.

A Morepork. Photo courtesy of 'in paradise', Flikr.

A Morepork. Photo courtesy of ‘in paradise’, Flikr.

We’ve also borrowed the sparrow, the starling, the thrush, ring-necked pheasants, quail, geese, magpies, ducks, and the gorgeously plumed Rosella from ‘over the ditch’ as we New Zealanders put when referring to Australia. Beautiful things they are, with rainbow plumage that hang around in flocks and eat fruit, then do a fly by resembling a multicolored necklace flung by an unseen hand. At least they look beautiful to your average suburbanite. I imagine that orchardists have a different description or two for them though…

Eastern Rosella - flying rainbows.

Eastern Rosella – flying rainbows.

And then there’s the Mynah bird. We have India to thank for them, I believe. Clever little buggers who can imitate darned near anything they put their minds to. I once met one who could tell knock-knock jokes – I swear it! And then afterwards it would laugh a maniacal laugh reminiscent of your garden-variety unhinged homicidal axe-murderer.

Your garden-variety unhinged homicidal axe-murderer, if their laugh is anything to go by.

Your garden-variety unhinged homicidal axe-murderer, if their laugh is anything to go by.

Thanks to 23thorns, I’ve decided to do a bit of research on our native birds. It’s about time I learned a little more about them myself, so I’ll do a bit more looking around and if all goes well I’ll put a post up in a day or two about them. In the meantime, enjoy your day and try to make somebody random smile if you can. Namaste.

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