Zealandia is an amazing little jewel in the Capital of New Zealand.

If you’ve never been, here is one thing you should realize. New Zealand spent 80 million years without mammals. That means no cats, dogs, squirrels, and any other fluffy creature you can think of. Therefore, in Zealandia, you won’t find any creatures with fur. If you’re looking for that, go to the Wellington Zoo (which is also amazing). From a student studying Wildlife Biology with a focus on mammals, going to a place where all mammals (except two species of bats) are invasive, was like going to another planet.

On this planet, the birds are what captures everyone’s attention. I mean why else would the national symbol of New Zealand, be a bird? You’ve heard of the kiwi, well in New Zealand you have to be more specific and say the kiwi fruit because their national bird is also called a kiwi. This bird is incredibly unique with the shortest beak in the world. If you’ve seen pictures or in person, you’d be very confused, because in the bird world the beak is measured from how far the nostrils are from the tip of the beak. The kiwi bird has its nostrils on the tip, therefore, the shortest beak. In Zealandia, there are no kiwi because that area isn’t where you would find kiwis in the wild.

While still on the subject of kiwis, that is also what New Zealanders call themselves, kiwis. It becomes very confusing when differentiating between the multiple meanings of the word kiwi, especially in New Zealand. Alright, let’s try and get back to the topic, Zealandia.

Zealandia is filled with the native birds of the area and boy, are they beautiful. You have Takahē, a large, flightless bird once thought to be extinct. The Hihi, the Saddleback, the Kākā, a large parrot. The Kererū, the Tūī and seven other native species. Now I hadn’t researched much on these birds and I was reluctant to even go, because if I did, I would have no idea of what I would be looking for. That’s why I didn’t go till right before I left and I am really glad I did go. I went with three gentlemen who were in my Animal Diversity class at uni. Two are Kiwis and one is Danish who has lived in New Zealand for two years and all in biology. They were much more knowledgeable than I was and pointed out all the birds by listening to their calls. In fact, on the map, all the native species are listed and we saw them all! Including the Tuatara, Wellington Green Gecko and the Tree Wētā. The last one is shown by going into a cave and they are on the ceiling! I went in once and for 5 secs. I couldn’t go again. I saw and that’s enough.

Without the help of my fellow classmates I would not have enjoyed Zealandia as much as I did. Thank you Shaun, Dan, and Dan!

Learning Māori

Māori to New Zealand are like Native Americans to the U.S. they differ however in their languages. The Native Americans have many different languages and more space to move around. Māori only have one language, te reo Māori. Since the relationship between the Māori and Britain has allowed this language to be taught at my uni (university), I thought why not. So I took and completed MAOR 101 – Introduction to te reo Māori.


Like any other introductory language course, it incorporated listening (whakarongo), speaking (kōrero), writing (tuhi), and reading (rīti). For me the hardest part was whakarongo because there are so many little articles and minor difference in sentence structure, it was difficult to discern. To work on this, our instructor would describe a scene and whoever’s picture came out the same, did a good job of listening.


The most challenging assignment was having to write an essay in te reo Māori about my family. It had a minimum of 280 words and could not go over 400. Here is what I turned in.


Ko Koenig te ingoa o tō mātou whānau. (The name of my family is Koenig) Kei Washinton tōku whānau. (My family live in Washington) Ko Rāwiri tōku matua ā ko Julie tōku whaea. (My father’s name is David[Rāwiri] and my mother’s name is Julie) Kei Washington rāua, enagri nō California rāua. (They live in Washington but are from California) Ko William tōku tungāne. (William in my younger brother) Kei Washington ia. (He is in Washington) Ko whaea pai a Julia. (Julie is a good mom) He wahine tino ātaahua tōku whaea. (My mother is very beautiful) Ko whakarīrā whakamahi a Rāwiri. (David is a hard worker) E maha ōna waka. (He has many cars) He roa ko Rāwiri rāua ko William. (David and William are tall) He rima tekau mā rima a Rāwiri ā he rima tekau mā toru a Julie. (David is 55 and Julie is 53) He tekau mā whā a William ā he rua tekau mā tahi ahau. (William is 14 and I am 21) Kāore ōku tuāhine. (I don’t have any sisters) E mau ana māua ko Julie i ngā mōhiti. (Julie and I wear glasses) Kaore ko Rāwiri raua ko Willliam ana I nga mōhiti. (David and William do not wear glasses)


He nēhi tōku whaea. (My mother is a nurse) He kaiaka mīhini tōku matua. (My father is a mechanic) E mahi ana ia mō Ford. (He works for Ford) E haere ana tōku tungāne ki te kura. (My brother goes to school) Ehara ia i tino pai tauira enagri he koi te hinengaro ia. (He is not a good student but he has a sharp mind)

E tunu ana maha tōku whaea ā ko ia tunu tino pai.  (My mother cooks a lot and she makes good food) E aroha ana ia ki te tunu ā e aroha ana ia ki te rīti. (She loves to cook and she loves to read) Me whakatika a William i tāna rūma moe, nā te mea i te nuinga o te wa he porohe tāna ruma. (William should tidy his room because most of the time his room is a mess) He tungāne pai ia, engari i ētahi wā ehara ia i te tama pai. (He is a good brother but sometimes not a good son. Engari e aroha ana mātou ki ia. (But we love him) He tino hoa maua ko William. (William and I are good friends)


E maha mātou mōkai. (We have many pets) E toru mātou ngeru, e rua mātou hurī ā e maha mātou ika. (We have three cats, two dogs and many fish) Kei Washington ngā mōkai. (The pets are in Washington) E rua mātou hurī, engari kaua e hīkoi I ngā hurī. (We have two dogs but we don’t walk the dogs) Me hīkoi rātou I ngā hurī nā te mea kei Aotearoa ahau. (They should walk the dogs because I am in New Zealand) Kotahi tōku mātua ngeru. (My parents have one cat) Kotahi tōku tungāne ngeru ā kotahi tāku ngeru. (My brother has one cat and I have one cat) Ko Cole te ingoa i te ngeru o William a ko Hippie to ingoa i te ngeru o mātua. (Cole is the name of William’s cat and Hippie is the name of my parent’s cat) Ko Starla raua ko Twilla te ingoa i nga huri o matua. (Starla and Twilla are the names of our dogs) Kaore ika nga ingoa. (The fish don’t have names)


Basically it describes who my family is, where they are from and what they do.

I must have done well because my grade back was a B.


Learning the language really helped me understand more of the culture and appreciate the diversity we have in this world. I suggest to those going somewhere new, learn the language!

Milford Sound April 25th 2016

April 25, 2016

First off, my feet stink so badly! I can’t even begin to describe, so I’m going to go wash them real quick.

Now that I feel better let’s begin with how today started and I have a feeling that this entry will take some time to finish. Hopefully I have the patience to do so.

Sleeping was easy, easier than the first night.

Breakfast was quick and walking, a breeze.

I was worried I would miss the bus but turned up there early anyways.

The bus driver was funny and enjoyable. But what I really want to do is write a story about today. How to start is still uncertain but one thing I do know for certain, today was a Mountain Top experience. Milford was beautiful as I thought it would be, however, the ride in and out was the best part.


On the way in, the bus driver stopped many times and gave wonderful commentary. Albeit, some were a little inaccurate but I wasn’t there to correct him, I was there to enjoy myself.


The road into Milford Sound is spectacular and some scenery was even used in the Hobbit films. There was one peak that jutted out from the others and that’s the peak that Peter Jackson used.


How can words describe today? How can words describe any day??


Upon leaving Milford Sound, you witness giants carrying out their day. Some are adorned with mist, others with dew. Their presences in all encompassing. You realize how small you really are, but these giants don’t scrutinize you. Instead they bring comfort. Comfort very similar to another powerful force, one even stronger. God. God’s majesty consumes you beneath these creatures’ feet. Yet you know they won’t step on you. They are the guardians to these waters, these trees, these birds. Their power isn’t controlled by humans. Their power is much more than what mere humans have, however, these giants have come to an understanding with humans. This understanding didn’t come right away but these giants were patience. The humans have this way of thinking that they’re the top of the world, but is it the humans that reach for the sky? Is it the humans that continue to grow? Do the humans have the power to live for thousands, even millions of years? No. It is because of their longevity that the guardians waited. They waited until the day came where humans realized how important they are. So now the humans work hard to aid the mountains; aid the livelihood of the coat that surrounds them, the life they support and the majesty they carry.


While leaving Milford sound, I became a dwarf. But instead of being crushed by these giants, I was cradled. I felt more cherished and loved, than frightened. These mountains contain the power of fear but during those moments, I felt none.


The bus driver made a point to mention how infectious mountains can be to the human species and then when surround by them, you feel spiritually connected to them. I connected to these mountains spiritually but what stands out more is that I connected to them emotionally.


These past two months have been hard, emotionally and spiritually. Moving away from home is not something new for me, but moving to a new country, even for four months, is still a big change. I feel different. I process things differently and I speak differently. I have changed.


Change isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s something to strive for.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” Winston Churchill.


Because I have changed I needed to discover who this new person was, so I took advantage of the mid-trimester break and left. Alone.


It is by far, the gutsiest thing I have ever done but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have begun to understand this new person and how she feels. Today, one piece fell into place.


I love giants.