Wednesday, January 11, 2012

'Being Kiwi'

I referred in my earlier post to being a ‘Dutch Kiwi’. But to be honest, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the label ‘Kiwi’. Not because it was first bestowed on us by Aussie soldiers in World War I. But it just seems to be tempting fate to call ourselves after a species that’s threatened with extinction, not least because the whole planet seems under threat from our own misguided use of resources.

According to the New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DoC), the total number of this unique New Zealand bird is probably less than 70,000, and expected to decline to about 63,500 by 2018.

However, it’s kind of encouraging to learn that the rarest – the rowi and Haast tokoeka, at about 350 birds each – are among those predicted to increase in number. Along with the Northland and Coromandel brown kiwi, which are more greatly represented.

My family picked up a sighting of two Northland brown kiwi earlier this week – albeit courtesy of the Kiwi North – Whangarei Museum kiwi house just outside of Whangarei. It was the first time my two youngest daughters had seen a live kiwi. Up close and personal they were – only a foot away from my youngest 5-year-old daughter through the glass enclosure. A treasure.

We’ve all yet to see one in the wild. But even on this aspect, it was gratifying to see in central Whangarei, just off State Highway One, a ‘kiwi trail’ sign alerting people to their (potential) presence in bush on the edge of the city. Admittedly, the main purpose was to alert dog owners to the need to keep dogs on a leash, but it was still a positive sign that this endangered bird can be seen (if you’re lucky) so close to an urban area.

Only last September, DoC launched a new campaign raising awareness of the threats kiwi face from free-roaming dogs.

I end this post with a video of another fondly-remembered kiwi – from the days before 24-hour TV. Let’s hope that ‘goodnight kiwi’ is not a prophetic phrase.


  1. Love the name of your blog - in a young land - I suppose it is, though it still seems old to me in many ways (a narrow view!). Keep writing. The silent masses are listening.

  2. It is young geologically, relative to the rest of the world - i don't know how young precisely, but will look it up some day and perhaps write more about it; young in terms of first human settlement - 800-1000 years ago; and young in terms of European settlement too - just over 200 years. The transformation of the landscape in that latest time, especially last 100-150 years, has been dramatic - but in some ways, I feel that gives better scope for faster recovery from the ravages and mistakes of humanity. More on this theme later.