In the above photo you can see Matah and her new baby brother Toutouwai. His name means Black Robin in Maori. These are the two darling children of a couple we met on the street. They used to live in Christchurch but moved to Westport in January. They know and love Elder Hudson, who at the present time is in Blenheim. When he goes home next year they want to send him money to come back to see them. I was blessed to hold the little guy for all the while we were visiting with the family. I have missed holding babies. The next day after visiting with this family I became so sick for 4 days. I had the flu and a bad cold. It really knocked me for a loop.
I would like to share the story of the Black Robin. It is an amazing story of survival.
Long ago, hundreds of Black robins (toutouwai) lived on the Chatham Islands. They sang in the forest and ate grubs, weta and worms on the forest floor. Then people came. They burnt the forest to make farmland.
Cats caught the robins and rats ate their eggs and chicks. Soon all the robins on the main Chatham Island were gone. Just a few survived on Little Mangere Island.
Little Mangere Island is tiny. Its cliffs are 200 metres tall, keeping it safe from rats, cats and people. But it was so small and wind-swept that the forest was dying. The robins’ tiny wings were not strong enough for them to fly away to find another home.
This is the story of how the back robin made a comeback!
Now there are about 200 Black robins singing in the forests of Mangere and South East Islands.
* The main population of black robins now lives on South East Island, which has more homes and food for the birds because it is much larger and has more forest area than Mangere Island.
* The total of 200 black robins was from both islands. It's not possible to get an exact count because many of the younger birds do not have coloured leg bands.
* There are no rats, cats or possums on Mangere or South east Island.
* All the black robins alive are descended from just one pair, Old Blue and Old Yellow. Old Blue lived to be 14 years old. She was the female.
What a marvellous story of conservation and survival! The fostering programme used to save the black robin was so successful that it has been copied to save endangered birds around the world – how lucky New Zealand is to have such wonderful conservation officers and volunteers!
I had wondered why anyone would name their child Toutouwai but after reading about the Black Robins I know why. I thought you would enjoy the story too.
Every day when I look out our window I see these birds. I am reminded of the Windex commercial at home where the crows are talking and the guy hits the window. I can just hear these birds mocking us.
We were in Nelson this week for Zone Conference. The above picture is of Elder Booth, a new elder, and Elder Mataupu leaving their flat for an appointment. Every time they leave their flat they get a work out. It is so steep leaving the Cherry Avenue flat. The flat is up in the hills of Nelson. When we call the elders in the evening we can hear them puffing as they ride their bikes home.in the dark and cold.
Above you can see a praying mantis. I am fascinated with the bugs that are all over New Zealand. I am learning to take better pictures of what I see and I wish I could share all the pictures with you. Elder Hudson helped me with this picture.
Here is our new Nelson Zone. Front row, myself, Elder Archibald, President Jolliffe, Sister Jolliffe. Back row: Elder Tamale, Elder Fullmer, Elder Kaufusi, Elder Booth(in the back), Elder Sacco, Elder Berryman, Elder Hudson, Elder Mataupu, and Elder Kavaefiafi. We have an awesome Zone and had a wonderful conference. We were taught about the importance of Integrity in everything we say and do. It is not always easy to be full of integrity. Elder Worthlin said that he knew of no higher praise than any many could receive than that he had integrity. It is the light that shines from a disciplined conscience.
We have had a slow couple of weeks as far as working with inactive and non-member people as I have not been well but we have been busy when we were healthy. Yesterday we travelled to Greymouth for tea with the Kinikini's. Sister Kinikini's mother was returning home today to Tonga. Her visa was running out. She lives in the same village as Elder Kaufusi who returns home with honor on May 18th. We will truly miss him. He has been here ever since we got here and we have really gotten to know and love him. We truly love what we are doing, although days like today we do miss our family but we are blessed here in New Zealand.