Monday, 21 January 2013

Kiwi Didja Know

As we have docked at the port of the very cosmopolitan city of Wellington, I thought it might be fitting to provide you all with a couple of useless New Zealand facts just in case it ever shows up as a category on Jeopardy. We'll call this "Didja know?" (Alex can take a hike!)

Didja know that Wellington and not Auckland was the capital? While the neighbour to the north remains New Zealand's largest city, Wellington has been its capital since 1865. Sort of like Toronto's suffering from Ottawa complex. Huh!!

Didja know that Kia Ora is Maori for hello? They use it all the time here. Huh!!

Didja know that New Zealand was a country without land mammals until some totally useless bipeds introduced them to the island? This place was the ultimate aviary for thousands of years until people decided to show up. These days, there is a concerted effort to repopulate both islands with native birds and attempt to rid them of pests like mice, rats, and the dreaded Australian possum. Animal sanctuaries are a huge deal here and places like the one we visited today, Zealandia, are taking huge steps forward in finding and helping to breed long thought extinct species, as well as provide them with natural habitats away from those nasty mammals. Huh!!

Didja know that the kiwi is both a fruit and a bird? Of course you did, but did you ever stop to think about how much the fruit resembles the bird? Both brown, fuzzy, and round like a ball. I wonder if you'd find green flesh and black seeds if you cut open the bird. Huh!!

Didja know that an inordinate amount of people here positively glow and glisten when discussing the indigenous flora? I have never seen so many people that turned on by botany, ever!! Frankly, it is all a wee bit unnerving. I half-expected to have to sit for an exam about the growing habits of the Silver Fern both yesterday and today. The life and times of New Zealand's greenery is way above my pay grade, but the environmentalist and conservationist sides of me say "Good on them!" Somebody has to care. Huh!!

Didja know that the only international embassy in Wellington that is protected by armed guards is the American? That says something extraordinarily disturbing about the scary world outside. Huh!!

Didja know that I will give a prize (don't get excited, it's not that big of a deal!) to the first person who can accurately name this bird?

There are only about 250 of the creatures left in the world today and we saw this little critter named T2 gorging himself. Very cool, yes? Huh!!

Didja know that the tui is a bird with two voice boxes? It can sing and call for its mate at the same time. I'm thinking that such a gift might be handy come High Holiday time. I could sing my own harmonies. Huh!!

Here's hoping that you are a little more educated about our friends the Kiwis. Either that or I just wasted a good five minutes of your time.