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the once-fabulous huia

Once the huia lived in our North Island forests.  Last seen in the mid 1920s.  With their two different sized beaks – they were a wonder of the world!  Hers (seen here) was curved, & useful for digging larvae out of logs. His – short and stout – made a great drill.

Humans hunted them for the hat trade and collections, plus they were predated (eaten) by kiore, ship rats, stoats and cats.

Huia skins are held in museums in Adelaide, Akaroa, Amsterdam, Ann Arbor (USA), Ashburton, Auckland, Basel (Switzerland), Baton Rouge (USA), Berlin, Birmingham, Bremen, Brussels, Cambridge (UK), Cambridge (USA), Cardiff, Chicago, Christchurch, Dannevirke, Dresden, Dunedin, Edinburgh, Exeter, Florence (Italy), Foxton, Frankfurt, Geneva (Switzerland), Gisborne, Glasgow, Gore, Honolulu, Leicestershire, Leiden, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Melbourne, Michigan, Milan, Munich, Napier, Nelson, Newcastle, New Plymouth, New York, Norwich, Oslo, Oxford (UK), Palmerston North, Paris, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Porirua, Princeton, Rotorua, Stockholm, Sydney, Taihape, Te Awamutu, Timaru, Tring (UK), Vancouver, Vienna, Wanganui, Washington, Wellington, Whakatane and Whangarei.

Information from the booklet that goes with the game

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5 Glorious Gods and Goddesses

Tangaroa God of the sea.
His waves crash onto the sand.
His sons and daughters dive and swim in the deep.
Tangaroa gives no mercy to the creatures that harm his children.

Pandora with long black hair
and a purple dress,
her red scarf goes around her like a ribbon.
She opens the box.
Danger is ahead.

Minerva, Goddess of human settlement.
Makes peace from wars.
Her power is great.
Her fire swelters with flames.
Her spear is pointy.
Her helmet looks like a soaring hawk.

Tane Mahuta, the God of the forests.
Nature is his soul.
His friends are like his brothers.
The forest is his family.  The forest covers him whole.

Hine nui te Po,
The Goddess of darkness and death.
Great lady of the night and queen of the underworld
Wife and daughter of Tane Mahuta, god of the forests.

The five glorious gods

by Maha Frier, Waikanae Primary school, age 9
printed with her permission, from Native Habitats, Waikanae Children’s Creations: Mahara Gallery,  June 2012

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our extinct eagle

Hokioi, our extinct Haast’s eagle, is the world’s largest known eagle.  Weighing up to 10kg (male) and 15kg (female), they took prey up to 200 kg ie the BIG moa.

Living only in the South Island, they survived to 1300AD.  Although – there was one possible sighting in the 19th century.

They became extinct through loss of prey (people ate the moa), and human hunting.

Information from the booklet that goes with the game.

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how the world is made

The classical & pagan world-view was that the world was made of 4 elements: air, fire, water and earth.

These elements are reflected in the seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter.  In the four magical creatures: eagle, dragon, salmon, stag.  In the card-deck: spades, clubs, hearts, diamonds.

In Aotearoa / New Zealand we did not have mammals – we had birds across all the realms.

So, in our Cloak of Protection deck we have: settlement, forest, sea, extinct.  With gods: Minerva, Tane Mahuta, Tangaroa, Hine nui te Po.  With four magical birds: kahu (the harrier), karearea (the falcon), torea (the royal albatross), hokioi (the giant eagle).

With these we make (or break) our world.

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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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Pandora – should she have a new power?

My friends Jan & Neil have sent me the following feedback..

“Sometimes the game is too long and the longer you play the harder it is for anyone to win….”

There are a couple of strategies, within the rules, that help:

1.     Instead of a pick-up from the undealt pile, you can pick up all the cards (including gods or Pandoras) – down to a predator – from the discard pile.  You must put down a god instead.  Make sure people always put down the predator/s first, then their prey etc on top

2.         When you make one row with the same numbers  – if the game is getting difficult to win – you could use a god of that realm, instead of a number card.

But, there is a suggestion, from my friends, that Pandora could have another use.

In Greek legend Pandora, as the first woman, was Gaia in human form.  Both are red nature ‘tooth & claw’.  Like Gaia, Pandora was the giver of gifts, both the good and the bad, both those we want and those we really hate.  What we think of the gift, is not their problem!

Maybe the Pandora card could be used, not only to pass on a predator, but could also be used to raid a bird card from someone else?

Do you like this idea? Do you think it would it make a difference in lengthy games?

Post feedback OR do our poll..