The Flax (Harakeke) & The Drunken Tui

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-8-45-20-amMost days when we walk along the river there is always a fluttering of tui around the flax plants.  Watching the tui balance itself just quick enough to dart from frond to frond is quite impressive.  They are stunning little birds with a unique look to them, the plant too is quite striking and looks very closely related to the kangaroo paw plant found throughout Australia.

I’ve not yet managed to capture the lovely birds to highlight here but this is a link to some information and beautiful images of the tui.

Apparently the pollen inside the flax can sometimes ferment, which causes the birds to fly around in a drunken manner.

This morning I took a stroll up our property to check out the bees.  I heard a noise behind me so turned.  A tui was collecting food from a flax plant right in our driveway!  I’d not even noticed that this was a flax plant – when we moved in, it was a huge flower of white that I was positive that was all that lived in that spot.  Whilst the bird appeared sober, I do believe if it were later in the day he would have found it a respectable time to indulge his love for alcohol.

The flax is quite an iconic part of Māori New Zealand culture and trade as it has many important uses.  It is prominently featured in Māori clothing, baskets and was even used as a trade item as it was quite a formidable product for making rope.