Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bringing back the bellbirds

More than 200 people found it no problem to turn up at 8 am on a recent Sunday morning at the Hamilton Gardens. They poured into Te Parapara Garden to see the release of bellbirds into the Gardens. When the containers were opened, it was just a moment and a flash of olive and gold before they were out of sight.

We hope that they will stay at the Gardens - and more importantly - nest here so that when we visit they will delight us with their song.

It is some years ago that I visited Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. This sanctuary could well be described as party central for bellbirds. There for the first time, listening to the dawn chorus, I realised how New Zealand used to be and what we have lost.

In the Waikato, we have very little of the indigenous cover remaining. We now treasure the meagre fragment of kahikatea at Jubilee Bush and marvel at the striking stand of kahikatea forest at Yarndley's Bush near Te Awamutu.

The bellbird release is possibly optimistic but also symbolic as a tangible reminder of all that we still need to do.

Stirring song and dance

Maori graduates of the university and Wintec may choose whether to receive their degrees at the Founders theatre or at a marae ceremony.

At the Founders, most graduates walk across the stage accompanied by polite clapping. In contrast, at a recent Wintec graduation ceremony at the Kirikiriroa Marae, graduates received heartwarming vocal support from the large gathering of friends and family taking obvious pride in their accomplishments.

At this moving - and leisurely - ceremony most graduates were acknowledged individually by stirring waiata or haka from friends and whanau. Younger members of their families at this event could well be inspired to consider tertiary study for themselves.

A Scottish woman who chose the marae graduation was warmly applauded as we listened to the plaintive notes of her supporting lone piper. Song and dance, as part of the rich fabric of the occasion, move us perhaps more than words may do.