by Rosemary Penwarden
The day after news reports of Auckland's traffic gridlock, Derek and I wandered down to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Within 20 minutes of leaving my house I was under a fuschia tree watching two saddlebacks calling to each other. One was closely followed by an opportunistic fantail, grabbing at the tiny insects being disturbed by the saddleback's sharp beak. Two riflemen were squeaking and hopping nearby. A South Island robin, hearing my footsteps, swooped in and sat silently beside me, waiting for mealworms. Bell birds came, looked and noisily left. Tomtits stopped by, see-see-seeing at each other, and kereru tipped and dived overhead.
Back on the track, a takahe popped his head through the long grass, solemnly fixed my eye, and proceeded to silently explain his expectations. The plastic takahe feeding trough was empty; my job as a human was to fill it. When I did not oblige he gave me a resignedly disappointed look, turned his glorious wide crimson beak back towards the currently dried up swampy spot below the track and quietly stalked away, plastic colour bands softly tinkling.
I haven't driven my car in ages. Even Dunedin's traffic feels like an affront to sanity. Viva Waitati. (Don't tell the Aucklanders.)