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No. 5 (Spring 1953)
– 54 –

NEW ZEALAND BIRD STORIES

HOW THE SILVER-EYE CAME TO
NEW ZEALAND

One day a friendly little fantail was hunting for insects in a puriri tree. Suddenly the sun went under a cloud. The fantail ceased searching for insects, hunched his feathers and looked sad.

‘Why do you look so sad’, said the wind to the fantail, ‘when my friend the sun goes under a cloud for a few minutes?’

‘Because I like the warm sun to shine,’ answered the fantail. ‘I can catch more insects then.’

‘You are a very hard-working little bird,’ said the wind. ‘Why don't you take things easy?’

‘Oh, dear me! I could not do that,’ replied the fantail, ‘the forest is full of harmful insects and they must be caught.’

‘I go everywhere and see everything that goes on in the land,’ said the wind, ‘and while there are such good insect-hunters as the grey warbler, rifleman, tom-tit, yellowhead and others, there is no need at all for you to work so hard.’

‘That may be so,’ chirped the friendly fantail, ‘but I would very much like more help.’

The wind shook the puriri tree and said, ‘I am strong and shall bring you a bird from a far country. I shall carry it with me across the sea, and you will know it when you see it, for it has white around the eyes. It is a great insect-hunter, and will be a great help to you.’

Strange to relate, a great wind got up in the year 1856 and brought the silver-eye (or, as some call it, wax-eye or white-eye) to New Zealand from Australia. When the Maori people saw the silver-eye they called it Tauhou, which means ‘stranger’. The fantail is not disappointed with the bird that the wind promised it would bring over, for the silver-eye is very industrious and seeks insects all day like the fantail himself.

HOW THE LITTLE BLUE PENGUIN
AND GANNET BECAME FRIENDS

Ages ago when the world was young, the little blue penguin used to live on land and eat worms like the kiwi. One day, as a penguin was waddling along near the shore to get some sea air, she found a gannet who was in distress. ‘What brings you over here away from your friends?’ asked the cheerful penguin. ‘I have hurt my wing and cannot fly back to my friends,’ replied the gannet, ‘and to make matters worse I have an egg, but my wing hurts me so much that I cannot sit on it.’ ‘Let me sit on the egg for you,’ said the little blue penguin. And she did. After she had stayed there for many days, a little gannet hatched out. The mother gannet's wing became better, and she swam around in the sea and brought fish for the youngster to eat. The penguin was invited to taste the fish that the gannet caught every day, but the penguin, who had never tasted such a thing before, would not eat it at first. After a time she was persuaded to eat a little, and, as she liked it so much, decided to eat as much as the gannet would bring her. One day, the gannet said, ‘I am going back to live with my friends on those big rocks in the ocean over there, and shall take my young one with me, for as you can see, it can fly now. But, before I go, I will teach you how to swim and catch fish.’ The penguin liked her new way of living so much that she no longer spends her time on the land looking for worms, but swims happily in the sea and searches for fish. The gannet will never forget the good turn that the penguin did her, and they will always be close friends.