3 August 2018

The seal and the kereru

As I walked around Mount Maunganui with my children a couple of weeks ago, I was, as usual, transported to a place of wonder and beauty.

View from Mount Maunganui's base track.

I'd recently walked through Venice, Vienna, Paris, Oxford, and the architecture was exquisite.

Near the centre of Vienna.

 In Vienna we went to a famous old coffee house, and the friendly waiter wanted to know where we were from. As with so many people, he practically swooned over the thought of New Zealand.

Inside a Viennese coffee house.

I do like a nice ceiling.

"The nature! So beautiful!" he said.

"Yes, but we don't have many beautiful buildings," I replied. "You have such beautiful buildings."

"Who needs buildings?" said this man, who spends his days in I'm sure what is one of the world's most beautiful buildings. "Nature!"

Of course we are pretty keen on having buildings, for good reason. But buildings can be replicated, even if it's difficult to do. People are smart enough to do that. But no one can create something like this from scratch. This is irreplaceable and non-recoverable.

A mid-winter Saturday at the foot of Mount Maunganui.

The seal and the kereru

Each time we've walked around the Mount recently, we've seen at least one seal, which makes my heart leap! Last time we spotted this baby one, presumably waiting for its mother to return with fish.

Once upon a time, I told the children, before humans came to New Zealand, this coastline was crowded with sea mammals, and also seabirds and shorebirds. This is but a tiny remnant of what was here.

But still they are here - and when I was growing up, it was very rare to see seals.

Once upon a time there were also huge flocks of kereru (wood pigeons) in New Zealand (and in some places, there still are). When we moved to Hamilton from Titirangi 12 years ago, I was sad to leave the lush fat kereru in our garden there. Here we have only seen the odd one, perhaps every two years or so.

One of a pair of kereru I spotted in Hammond bush, Hamilton.
Our community and the local council do predator control in this bush.

But last week I saw them three times, and twice, for the first time ever, there were two of them. If they are a breeding pair, we may get more.

I love beautiful old buildings. But oh, the nature. New Zealand's biological heritage may be a scanty fragment of what it once was, but we have to nurture it. Given the right conditions, our native animals are tough and resilient and will return (unless they're extinct, which so many already are). They just need a hand. A lot of hands. Two of them are mine.

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