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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 10 (January 2, 1939)

“Kou-Kou!”

“Kou-Kou!”

In this magic-belted isle of bird-song, every creature of the forest strives to chant “Creation's music.” Even the doleful owl must add his call to the universal chorus of joy and gladness. One evening, while the sun was still shining, and the bellbird and tui and other birds were singing cheerily in the trees near the house, the custodian was amazed to hear a morepork joining in the general song. Old Ruru sat sombrely on a branch by himself, the Ishmael of the bush, but he could not resist the urge to utter his “kou-kou, kia toa” as the Maoris have it.

A tuatara lizard was found living in a rocky retreat near the west landing. It was christened “Jim.” The old fellow used to come out when he was called to be fed, and submitted to being picked up and stroked. One would imagine this spiny creature about the least promising subject for petting, but on enchanted Hauturu all living things seem responsive to the magic call of aroha.

* * *

Men come and go, generations pass, but always let us hope the dawn music of bellbird and tui will ring on Hauturu:

Mighty songs that miss decay;
What are they?
Crowds and cities pass away
Like a day.
Books are out and books are read;
What are they?
Years will lay them with the dead—
Sigh, sigh;
Trifles unto nothing wed,
They die.”

But the Maori birds will chant “Song's Eternity” after we have gone. The writer of those lines, that most exquisite of nature-singers, John Clare, the Northamptonshire peasant, who found such joy in the bluecap's “tootle, tootle, tootle-tee,” might have been uplifted to even sweeter flights had he heard a dawn-time concert of tui and korimako in the forest-fringe, where the birds “sing Creation's music on” in rhythm with the sea on surf-washed Hauturu.