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Why Minerva?

Several people have asked me what Minerva – goddess of Western / European city-states – is doing in a New Zealand bird card deck. World views, and mythologies, should be separate.

Should they?  Or have mythologies always changed as we need to re-imagine our world?

Change came to our islands in two ways.  With mammals; with people.

With mammals, the impacts are obvious in the game.  They eat the birds!

And then there’s the people.  Two kinds.

First there were the Polynesian Maori.  While they made huge changes – their gods were in harmony with the landscape.  Their mythology explained how we came to be here, and the respect we need to show for the landscape in order to thrive.  It contained a very sophisticated view of the world that shares both the Celtic world-view, and that of modern physics.

Then there were the European settlers.  They wanted to make this ‘empty landscape’ a Britain of the South Seas.  So with picks and shovels they set about clearing forests.  Up grew farms, towns, and cities.

How could our pakeha ancestors do this?  Because our mythology was different.  Minerva was our inspiration. (Also known as Athena, Britannia, and Zealandia: on our coat of arms).

In the Greek story, Zeus swallowed Metis, the goddess of wisdom, who was pregnant with Athene (Minerva).  Just so the wisdom of the land can be swallowed up.

But his daughter burst fully formed, from his head.  She is Metis, her Mother, in another form.  Now the goddess of human community ‘cities are the gift of Athene (Minerva)’.

The birds in this set were part of this dynamic.  They were introduced to live in our settlements.  All except for kahu, the harrier that introduced itself from Australia – and thrived in the new landscape of open spaces…

This set – like their goddess – is not bad, if we (like the Celts)  recognize wisdom in her.  It was just new.  And difficult to assimilate.   As it is. . .

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game play-off

On March 28, 36 Waikanae students (years 5-8) came to Nga Manu Nature Reserve for a game play-off.  We had four teams (forest, sea, settlement, extinct).  It took 4 rounds for the  forest team to win!  Photo shows one – of the many – trades.

In between playing there was eel feeding, walking the bush, and seeing the birds.  The new education centre at Nga Manu was a fabulous place for us to be. It was a buzz!

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We Inspire Student’s Creativity

At the Mahara gallery, we have a Native Habitats project underway. Bringing together the arts and conservation, this is sponsored by the Phillip Family Foundation.

Year 5 and 6 students from Kapanui and Waikanae Schools have been coming to the gallery to play the game, write poetry, and create artwork.

The gallery will show all the artwork and the poetry that the students produce in a show Native Habitats: Waikanae Children’s creations.  These works will then be gifted to the Nga Manu Wildlife centre for display in their new education suite.

Meanwhile we’re planning a inter-schools play-off of the game at the education centre on 28 March

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Local School Programme

I’ve been down at the Mahara Gallery, along with Morgan’s exhibition, for the past 4 weeks.  Playing and playing and playing the game.  I’ve must have played a gazillion times by now, and still no two games have come out the same!

The last 2 weeks we’ve had a school’s programme going with year 5&6 students from our two local schools (Kapanui & Waikanae).  Over 300 students attended. Some students have returned for more sessions, or brought a parent in to play the game too.

Living by a beach, we’re all a bit shocked by the number of sea-birds the ferret (illus) can eat!

The game has also gone up to Taneatua school.  Here’s what their teacher, Sue Sisam, said of her year 7&8 class: ‘‘The game arrived today and the children have been playing it without stopping for an hour. They all said that they think it is really cool. Each time they played it we learnt a new strategy!!!’