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Wednesday 27 March 2013

Homeward Bound, with a Hummingbird of a Typewriter

It's midnight in Canberra. In four hours I will be leaving here, travelling by Greyhound to Sydney International Airport and then flying on to Christchurch, New Zealand. This time tomorrow I will be back in my home town of Greymouth.
I haven't even started to pack yet. But there is one item already in the suitcase. After much consideration, I tested and settled on a Groma Kolibri ("hummingbird"). Knowing I'd be confined to just the one typewriter to use for a week, I wanted to be sure it was both small and light enough, as well as reliable. This one appears to fit the bill. Only the "8" played up, a little, but a bit of a toggle soon got it working:
There are no New Zealand hummingbirds. Indeed, this Groma might be the only Kolibri to reach its shores. But New Zealand, before the arrival of humans - less than 900 years ago - was completely free of mammals, except those which could swim or fly there. It has some wonderful native birds. My favourite is the kea, the thieving parrot. Just last month one of these birds stole $1100 in cash from a Scottish tourist. In 2009, another Scot had his passport stolen by a kea. Keas are described as intelligent, but are notorious for vandalising cars, including stealing keys, breaking off wing mirrors and stripping rubber from windscreen wipers for nest souvenirs. Zoologist Mark Cawardine describes them as “a devilish mountain parrot feared by hire car companies.”
The kea stole the $1100 in Arthur's Pass, through which I will travelling on my way up from the wide Canterbury Plains through the Southern Alps, on my way to the Wild West Coast. It's an area which enthralled Agatha Christie, who photographed it in 1923 (see earlier post on "Have Typewriter, Will Travel"). I don't know whether I will spy too many native birds in Greymouth, but one I would dearly love to see again is the honeyeater, the beautiful tui:
One I definitely won't see is the moa, which was hunted to extinction by the Maori. Here is a model of the moa standing beside a kiwi:

The moa,  a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand, was the tallest and heaviest bird that ever lived. It grew to 14 feet and weighed 600 pounds. It was thought to have been hunted to extinction by 1400 AD. But some folks in Arthur's Pass have been known to have some fun with the moa:
Moa sightings or not, I will be posting and typecasting when and if I can in New Zealand. With no access to a scanner, I will have to photograph typecasts. Let's hope the hummingbird hums along as nicely as it did tonight in its test type. As of now, I have full confidence it in. I took a little Remington Model 2 to Noumea a couple of years ago, but didn't get a lot of work out of it. This time, fingers crossed, things will be different.


Richard P said...

Nice contrast between the Kolibri and the moa! Those other NZ birds are beautiful, too. Have a great trip home.

Rob Bowker said...

Happy landings. Looks like a lovely place to call home :-)

Terry Murray said...

Small point: Re the moa: I think you mean "indigenous" rather than "endemic."

Terry Murray
Clinical Editor
The Medical Post
Toronto (Canada

Scott K said...

Have fun! Don't come back with a Wheta hiding in your typewriter.

Miguel Chávez said...

Beware of any masked kea approaching your hummingbird... unless it plans to type a confession for his robberies on it.

Have a good trip!

Ted said...

have a safe trip home, and don't let them pesky parrots steal your Kolibri! (:

Ray said...

Tui's are delightful birds. If you don't get to see one on your return trip, you can always enjoy a Tui (beer) which is what I always like to do when I go back to see family. Of course, if you're on the West Coast I suppose you'll have Monteith's. Have a great trip Robert.

shordzi said...

Bon voyage!