Friends In High Places

Kirsty Nixon

29 September – 24 October 2018

The Tui’s sing-songy warble is in the distance as I write. Often when I’m outside I answer back with a somewhat substandard whistle to try and make them answer.  Although they can by nature be aggressive to other birds when defending territory or food sources, the song we identify them with seems to contradict that as it is so enchanting. Their quick, heavy swoops as they chase each other through our garden from branch to branch often catching me unaware.

Our children were fortunate to go to a beautiful school. The school has a junior side and a senior side with all children under the age of eleven. The two areas are separated by a bridge which meanders through a beautiful bush scape at the heart of which is a stream. We would walk the children to assemblies or the school library in messy excitable lines when the occasion required it. From the bridge you look onto the tops of ferns and out to glorious Nikau.

At the edge of the path leading down to the bridge is a large tree. Most of the year it sits in a rather unspectacular manner waiting for it’s time in the sun. Then, as if from nowhere, it bursts into flower. Great clusters of colour embellish it’s branches. And then they come. The Tui. I once watched the scene as I dropped off my youngest and counted twenty eight Tui from near and far feasting on the nectar with frenzied passion. The beauty of the tree and the Tui’s song was enchanting.

Ever watchful on flax fronds or drunk on fresh Kowhai nectar, our Tui with their sheeney feathers and white bib are captivating; that haunting call to another bird travelling through the bush.  As a New Zealander, it is the sound I most associate with home.

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