Gathan Beaga

Kōtare

Walking to work this morning I was reminded of a morning nearly two years ago. It was a similar sort of day – an indeterminate mix of cloud and clear with the sun starting to make some real progress over the Hutt hills. (Perhaps that day also turned on some glorious winter sun, like today did.)

It was the month before Isabella’s birth, and I was stuck in a state of joyous expectation tinged with (I admit it) fear. Between house and work walking then (as now) provided useful think time.

Passing the Rose Garden in the Botanic Gardens I rounded the end of the playing field. I looked to my left, and there, perched in a row on the goalposts above the goalie’s rutted puddle were three kōtare (NZ kingfishers). They were all looking over their shoulders in the same direction. There they sat for what seemed like ages, until finally one flew away and the spell was broken.

It was supremely weird moment, and seemed to be significant somehow. It felt like a good omen, and I carried on to work feeling much lighter.

In the next few days I thought about it a lot, maybe too much, and even thought seriously about Kōtare as a second name for the baby when it came. After a while though the impact of the moment wore off, and by the time Bella finally arrived I had all but forgotten about it.

These days perhaps Piwakawaka would be more appropriate anyway… small, cheeky, cute, and hyperactive…