I think Fantails get a bad wrap. Yes I know, I know one of their kin was responsible for Maui’s death, I get that. Every Kiwi knows the score – Fantails bring bad luck – and if one flies inside your house then someone is about to die.
But how many Kiwi’s know that the ill feeling toward Fantails is actually based on the legend of Maui- and how he met his very strange death? But c’mon Kiwi’s, how long can we hold a grudge?
And to be fair, it was a pretty daft idea of Maui to turn himself into a worm and scurry up and inside the sleeping Hine-nui-te-pō (Goddess of the Night). I would have laughed too! Who hasn’t laughed at an in opportune time? Even now as I write I am smiling, thinking to myself – ‘Maui, what were you thinking?’
To me and my uneducated mind, that legend seems more a wonderful allegory of mans foolishness in seeking immortality – rather than dissing and forever condemning the poor old Fantail for having a sense of humour. So let’s get over it and move on.
Over the summer and now into autumn I have been busy outside. So far I have
- Cleared a whole bank, full of gorse and scrub.
- Planted close to 100 native plants on the bank.
- Cleared and built secret paths and walkways
- Dissembled a dilapidated and unsafe car port (a decent 6 earthquake would have brought it down and saved me the job).
- Build Maddie a Club House (with an amazing view of the bay) with the re-cycled timber and iron from the Car port.
- Starting clearing more scrub (on borrowed land – shush) so I can plant a mini orchard in the spring.
- This week a compost bin gets built (the last of the recycled materials).
- Next week a herb garden goes in.
The above list is not to show nor prove how good I am – far from it! I am a reluctant gardener and handyman at best. But recently I haven’t minded getting outside on the weekends and getting stuck in.
My daughter Maddie has been a regular companion and helper. I enjoy her company immensely. She sings, she chats, she asks a million questions, she tells jokes, we laugh and we talk about writing and stories. She really is the apple of my eye!
But my most constant companion has been Frank!
Please note that this is not Frank
Frank the Faintail has worked with me almost every weekend over the last 5 months. His familiarity and trust in me has got to the stage where he now waits outside the front door for me in the morning. He follows me around the garden! He follows me into the garage, he tries to get into the house – he actually succeeded once! (God I hope no one dies!)
He is a handsome young bird – with a beautiful orange chest, a lovely tan coloured neck and a tail as white as cotton wool which flicks into an amazing fan; seemingly every 5 seconds! He chirps, he sings, he flutters about me (often within a few centimetres of my head) and thoroughly entertains me. Work doesn’t feel like work when Frank is about.
Every handsome young man has a beautiful wife – and Franks wife is called Frankie. She is a little more timid, a little more reserved, hanging off and fluttering amongst the branches a few metres back. She rules the roost though – often going crook at Frank when she feels he is getting to close to me or the action. When Frank flies into the garage Frankie gets cranky – chirping loudly, no doubt telling him to get the hell out of there!
Maddie and I will be buying a bird feeder this weekend to hang off her Club House, as this is close to where Frank and Frankie have their nest. So when winter bites and I cant venture outside as often; at least I will know that my two new friends will have food and shelter.
I cant wait for spring!
The fantail has 20 or 30 different Māori names. As well as tīwaiwaka, it is commonly called pīwakawaka, tīwakawaka or tīrairaka. In one tradition, it was the fantail that caused Māui’s death, so it is a harbinger of death when seen inside in a house. A fidgety person is described as a fantail’s tail, because of the bird’s restless movements.