As kids we were lined up. we were all standing towards a fence, facing out east, which in that place means that we were facing the ocean. Someone walked up behind us, I don’t remember who it was.

They talked and it was clear that they were being serious. 

They pointed out two ways to run forward. The land went up on the right and down on the left. They said if you run that way, it is a safe way. They said if you run right, you might be struck down while you run. But If you can make it to the other side, you may have a chance to save everyone forever.

We were given some time to think about it. Which way we would run. 

Then they said go!

I ran as hard as I could. And before that I was afraid. But when I ran as far as I could and reached a fence at the end. I realised that I’d made it. 

I turned around and said ‘Nothing happened’

I think that getting there first was just the start of that race.


I remember at primary school our teacher told us to line up. All those who were Māori were to stand on her left (our right).

All those who were European were to stand on her right.

I took a place and stood in the middle. And I remember her, looking at both sides and then her asking me ‘Which side are you on?’.

I said ‘I am both’, and she put me on the Māori side.


In a past space.

I’ve seen Piwakawaka fly through fences. Not just of one them but many of them, over time.

Our house used to skirt the cusp of a reserve out Orakei. Lots of different kinds of birds would fly to the brick facade of our unit.

Tui’s fly to the bottom and flap up the walls climbing higher, and flap upwards while eating. In one flight Tui’s peck at the walls. I dunno what they eat, maybe spiders or something like that. Tui’s seem to exert a lot of energy.

Piwakawaka were different, they fly – dive at full speed through the gaps in a fence. The space of those fences is little more than their bodies. Less than their wing span. Fences just like the common ones in the image below. And for a long time I was amazed at how they did that. How could they judge that distance, and just go straight through?

Tonight I realised the fence doesn’t matter to them.

While a fence is an obstacle to us. To them, a fence is easy compared to the trees, and that Fibonacci complexity of nature, formed on a billion different stems and branches in a billion different ways. That one flight is a complexity that we can’t understand. To them, that is the world.

They fly though those fence gaps at full speed, with their eyes focused on their goal. And their timing is perfect. How far back did they see that everything would align at that right time, to where that point would be?

How did they know when to go?