The Kiwi

 The kiwi is a flightless, nocturnal, native bird of New Zealand.  It has a long beak with nostrils on the end so it can fossick about at night, feeding on small insects.  Its special characteristics contribute to New Zealand’s special biodiversity and its quirkiness suits ‘Kiwi’ culture.

 New Zealander’s have come to be known as ‘Kiwis’, there is a ‘Kiwi’ sense of humour, a ‘Kiwi’ do-it-yourself attitude, a ‘Kiwi’ dollar and ‘Kiwiana’ means the things that contribute to New Zealander’s sense of being ‘kiwi’.
 Kiwiana: What is kiwiana?  They could be described as all the weird and wonderful quirky things from our history that have contributed to our sense of nationhood – our kiwi identity.  The kiwi Gumboots, ‘Buzzy Bee Toys, No. 8 Wire, Paua, a pavlova dessert, shell ashtrays, the Edmonds Cookbook, L&P soft drink, hokey pokey ice cream and jandals.  These all seem like unimportant objects, but to many ‘Kiwis’ (New Zealander’s) such things assume vital importance as major icons of Kiwiana,part of our identity.
 The Kiwi is a very unbird-like bird, it has tough skin, feathers like hair, its bones are heavy, its wings end in a cat-like claw and its body temperature is lower than most other birds.  While most birds depend on sight, the kiwi has a highly developed sense of smell.  At night the kiwi can be heard sniffing around in the dark.  They sniff to smell a predator like a wolf or any other mammal.
 Kiwis have been known to live up to twenty years.
 The kiwi is the sole survivor of an ancient order of birds including the now extinct Moa’s.
 Kiwi Recovery: For New Zealander’s, the kiwi is not just another bird, it is a taonga, a treasure, part of who we are.  There are five kiwi sanctuaries doing great work in helping curb the kiwi decline in many parts of New Zealand.
 Kiwis grow to about the size of a chicken and weigh between three and nine pounds.  They have no tail and tiny two inch wings which for all practical purposes, are useless.  Despite its awkward appearance, a kiwi can actually outrun a human and have managed to thrive because of their alertness and their sharp, three-toed feet, which enable them to kick and slash an enemy. There are five kinds of kiwi in New Zealand – three closely related Brown Kiwis, the Little Spotted Kiwi and the Great Spotted Kiwi.
 Before the coming of the Maori, the kiwi had no predators.  Although the Maori valued kiwi feathers for making cloaks, the number of birds killed by Maoris was probably insignificant.  During the latter part of last century, many thousands of kiwis were captured by Europeans for zoos, museums and private collections.  Bush clearing, introduced predators, opossum traps and motor vehicles have all contributed to the reduction in the kiwi population.

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