In Christchurch, we have become accustomed to making do and that includes heralding the arrival of the kuaka (godwits).
Before the February 2011 earthquake, Christ Church Cathedral rang its bells for 30 minutes to herald the arrival of the godwits. Last year St. Paul’s Church in Papanui rang its bells. This year, Shirley Library rang its hand bell to herald the arrival of these amazing birds.
These small birds fly non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand in eight days. They leave the cold Alaskan winter for the warmth of the Avon-Heathcote estuary. They spend the summer here and, if you go down to the Spit, you might see them feeding on sea worms, mud crabs and shellfish. They need to put on enough fat to make the return trip in autumn. Their return trip is via the Yellow Sea, China and Korea, but the environment of these staging grounds is being destroyed. We can do our bit to help them. While they are here, please don’t disturb them or allow dogs to chase them.
Why not read about the godwits before heading off to the estuary? The library has several books and Christchurch City Council, together with other organisations, has published a fact sheet. You might also want to check out the display at Shirley Library (including a brief video of the bell ringing).