Friday, 18 June 2010

Quality of Life Improvement 27: The Goodnight Kiwi

Hawaiʻi desperately needs an instantly recognizable animal mascot. Humu­humu­nuku­nuku­āpuaʻa perhaps? Nēnē, or will Canada accuse us of filching their national bird? How about the Wallabies of Kalihi?

Aotearoa New Zealand has no problem with their national animal identity. At the mere mention of "kiwi" quite specific notions are top-of-mind: pathetically cute, flightless bird; outdoorsy pseudo-Englishmen; a country that not only always sits at the grown-up table but should be presiding over it permanently; and a hairy, testicle-like fruit that's green on the inside, full of vitamin-c, that nobody much likes.

Aotearoa has put this kiwi to work just about everywhere, so we hope that it has good union representation and a cracking lawyer. One of our favorite memories of Aotearoa in the 1980s is the national bird working as "The Goodnight Kiwi."

In those halcyon days before TVNZ was broadcasting what we'll charitably term "entertainment" 24/7, the broadcasting day was sweetly capped with The Goodnight Kiwi. He would turn off the last bit of programming, put on a muzak version of "Hine e Hine" and then retire to his nest at the pinnacle of the TVNZ transmitting tower, accompanied by his best friend—a curiously sized cat.

When we were young and in Aotearoa, we couldn't get enough of this. We loved thinking of the kiwi out on the horizon somewhere, sleeping under the Southern Cross; we found it all endlessly reassuring and charming. All these years later, we're still willing to suspend our disbelief that a kiwi has the manual dexterity to place a tape into a player or to operate a lift, and we can not ask ourselves why the cat is so small or why the cat isn't doing what cats famously do in Aotearoa—eat kiwis. It's just wonderful.

Hawaiʻi needs something similar. We needs more romantics. We need more verve. We need more people passionately devouring life. We need more people passionately in love with Hawaiʻi.

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