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Leave the national anthem – what about the bird?

  • April 23rd, 2011

In the reflective mood engendered in the run up to our national day (ANZAC Day because sermons drive us out to play on Waitangi Day) Brian Edwards urges the replacement of God Save New Zealand as our national anthem.

It is usually rendered as a supplicating dirge, whatever the merits of some verses. Judging by what people my generation belt out voluntarily when called on to sing overseas, 10 Guitars, or Pokarekareana, are more our national songs.

But Brian, while you are treading on national sensitivities, why not take on a more urgent campaign.

The kiwi is a disastrous national bird. Why identify with such a hopeless symbol?.

It snuffles around apologetically in the shadows, eating worms, freezing at sounds and movement, so defenseless it cedes to most animals half its size. It has so little spine and spirit it's chosen to occupy the humble evolutionary slot of half blind rodents (voles, hedgehogs etc) instead of maintaining and using the glorious inheritance that gave birds their marvellous break – the ability to FLY.  It can't survive predators the rest of the bird world has learned to cope with.

It is a dreary colour. Only its freaky fat shape generates any interest.
Few ever see it or hear it, outside guarded havens where it lives at the whim of its patrons in fragile and artificial security. Even there it is so boring that it only gets visitors for the reasons that our most pretentious artists get support – because enough people are so afraid to trust their own common sense that they pretend to like what the pseud establishment says they should like.

In the kiwi-arium all must approach with a reverential hush, in dim light. I suspect that many visitors are like me – they never actually see a kiwi. After long enough peering at shadows and insignificant movement, sick of having others say "over there, can't you see it",  sick of the dark when outside all is bright and cheerful, many must  pretend to see a kiwi just so they can leave.

So Brian – why don't you lead a debate with more practical benefit and more chance of success. The kiwi is a perfect fit to an anthem sung as an ingratiating whine, and now seems to go on for ever since we must sing it in two languages we do not understand. But start with the easier project first. Let's worry about the anthem replacement, and the flag replacement after we've dealt with the bird.

There is surely embarassment and long-brewed frustration among us all, waiting for the signal. Rightly lead the campaign to dump the loser kiwi should explode into an overnight national consensus, like a Lindauer cork.

Lets become keas. The kea can cope and has, with  species from more competitive environments. It can see off dogs. It welcomes and is curious about strangers, instead of hiding from them.
It has turned potential adversity to advantage. For example it learnt to find the fat around the kidneys of the squatters' sheep.
It has a glorious flash of underwing colour hiding under its suitably modest New Zealander exterior. If you've ever seen them in a blizzard, you'll know they pass the stoicism test for NZ identity and role modelling. They do things purely for fun, like lining up on the ridgeline to slide in turns down a steep hut roof, so they pass the sport lover test.

And like us, they choose to live in places of great natural beauty, presumably for the scenery and the lifestyle, though there are far more convivial, soft and prosperous places to live.

Lets have the kea, and forget about that loser kiwi. 

 The time might be right, since I got away live after suggesting on Jim Mora's show on National Radio last week that the kakapo might be more surely saved from extinction if the right to breed it for sale was auctioned by DoC


  • Ayrdale
  • April 24th, 2011
  • 11:11 pm

No wonder the kiwi lays such huge eggs said a wit recently, it's just an arse with a beak.


strength dude, brash has entered the arena, like you, a kiwi bird that can scratch out the eyes of an invading possum, right in front of even idiot New Zealanders watch TV, drink beer,

  • Aaron Dixon
  • May 6th, 2011
  • 7:56 pm

Agreed on dropping the kiwi as our national bird- an evolutionary dead end. I've always thought the tui was the best replacement toi represent us- understated but beautiful when studied closely, effectively black and white from a distance, daring, bold and gregarious with a beautiful voice.
Enjoy listening to your thoughtful words on National Radio.

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