Jackson James Wood Publishing First published by Jackson James Wood Publishing September 2012. Spontaneous Saddleback Sonnet Sessions by Jackson James Wood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence

Cover illustration by Joshua Drummond used under the implict understanding Jackson will cry if Josh sues him. All copy written by Jackson James Wood, except the parts that weren’t. Subedited by Amy Lovegrove. She was literally paid in peanuts (in the form of peanut butter).

ISBN 978-0-473-22540-7 www.jacksonjwood.com

This is the electronic version. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of copies of this on The Internet. Like this little compilation? Support Jackson and support Forest and Bird by stumping up some koha. http://bit.ly/saddlebacksonnets

Foreword Introduction Tahi: Rua: Toru: Wha: Rima: Ono: Whitu: Afterword Seven spontaneous Saddleback sonnets Hot hand Love birds Shotgun conservation Extinction Isolation Hope Tīeke triangle iii 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17


For Amy and my parents and sister Josh, Daniel, Keith etc Oh, and Tīeke too.


Jackson James Wood. Jackson. James. Wood. What’s in a name? This: It conjures up images of woody green glens, glenny green woods, and the birds that inhabit them. A man with a name like Jackson James Wood was born to be either an environmentalist or a lumberjack. He chose the former. Forest creatures everywhere are grateful, for surely none would have been as great a lumberjack as he. When I first met Jackson James Wood — a small, pointed, blond man, bearing an small, pointed, blond resemblance to the Belgian journalist Tintin — the first thing that struck me, apart from his fist (in an ill-timed fist-bumping accident) was the peculiar woody rhythm of his name. “Here”, I thought, “is a man who loves Forests, and Birds, and everything they stand for.” I waited for him to speak, and he did. Jackson James Wood spoke to me, and the sound

of his words was as the beating of besaddled, stubby wings, the trilling of ti-eke-eke-eke-eke-eke! Jackson James Wood, it turned out, was fond — nay, positively enamored — with that great, tiny bird of burden, the Saddleback. Time slipped by easily as he spoke passionately of the Saddleback. Its beauty, its grace, the way that its young gambol and play on the forest floor, its near-fall into extinction, its rescue, its inevitable triumph. “A Tīeke, free in the bush,” Jackson said, “is worth two in the hand.” I fell into a kind of trance, as if in the presence of Tāne Mahuta himself, as he pressed drink after drink into my hands and continued talking, talking, talking. I was bewildered, enraptured, converted. I awoke the next morning disheveled yet excited, my head pounding but clear. I had fallen in love with the Tīeke, and I would fol-


low its hop-hop-hop, its clumsy flight, its trilling, bewitching call — I would follow it anywhere. What a rare bird. A rare and wonderful bird indeed. Jackson James Wood is to Tīeke as Christ was to cross-shaped things. He is their great populariser and evangelist. He got a tattoo of one, for fuck’s sake! And I am to Jackson James Wood as Paul was to Christ: abrasive, dogmatic, slightly weird about the whole thing. Now that Bird of the Year gives us the opportunity to vote for the Tīeke in a competition weighing the various merits of the Native Birds of New Zealand, it should go without saying that it should win. However, nature is a cruel mother, and her children must needs fight among themselves for supremacy. How wonderful, then, that we all should be given the opportunity to see the words of Jackson James Wood put down into eternal print

form, the same words that converted me to the great cause of the Tīeke, besotted with the besaddle’d bird. I know, having read Jackson James Wood’s poems, sonnets, and various wanky esoterica, you will feel the appropriate degree of devotion, and we shall all rally to the cause together. I shall see you on the Saddleback side. Semper fi, Joshua Drummond, Hamilton, September 2012


SEVEN SPONTANEOUS SADDLEBACK SONNETS The Tīeke / Saddleback (Philesturnus carunculatus) is a truly magnificent bird. I first (knowingly) saw a Tīeke on my 27th birthday just this year. It brought tears to my eyes — my girlfriend Amy can vouch for this — and ranks as one of the happiest moments of my life. After two years of being the Bird of the Year champion for this example of avian awesomeness, I feel a close affinity with the bird. My friends call this an obsession. Maybe it is, but Tīeke are such interesting little critters. Members of the wattlebird family, they are cheeky and charismatic as they pip around chirping incessantly. Despite all their beauty and squawk they are poor fliers who, because of their propensity to nest near the ground, are easy pickings for introduced predators. This series of seven sonnets tells the tale of the Tīeke. We start off with a sonnet-ification of the traditional Maori story of how the Tīeke got its saddle and moves on to the story of Ngatoroirangi’s sacred Saddleback: Mumuhau and Takareto. This is followed by a look at the early Pakeha attitude toward conservation, the threat of extinction, isolation on offshore islands, ending in hope and sanctuary. It is a sad story, but one that ends on a note of hope for the Tīeke, and all endangered New Zealand birds. Bird of the Year, and the conservation efforts of Forest and Bird, are part of that hope. Ti-e-ke-ke-ke-ke, Jackson James Wood Wellington, September 2012 (Tīeke-Twelve: Year of the Saddleback)


Maui set out one day to slow the sun, with his rope and bros, to make days longer. Tīeke hopped beside, intent on fun. “Rere!” Maui cried as Rā grew stronger and his flesh burned and muscles ached with strain. But, like a boss, Tīeke stayed at hand until Rā promised not to speed again. “Bring me water, bird,” Maui did demand But Tīeke paid no heed to the man. “I’m thirsty and burnt , bring me wai reka!” Grabbing at Tīeke with his hot hand, Maui threw him into Okareka. A burn mark which will forever straddle, Tīeke emerged with a chestnut saddle.


Mumuhau and Takareto sat within the tohunga’s ponga-walled whare silently. Takareto sang a love song to begin but Ngatoro appeared violently. “Tell me what the weather will do tonight,” Ngatoro asked of the Tīeke pair. “Tāwhiri will weep pango: black, no light. Forget plans. Say your prayers. Stay here. Stay here.” Ngatoro picked up his kete and cloak “Tēnā rūkahu tēnā, my love birds,” he said as he left through mist like smoke. Takareto turned, not needing any words. The Tīeke were wont to love and laugh. As they say, old birds are not caught with chaff.


I sat among the kahikatea observing a black bird with red wattles. And pondered, while I ate quesadilla, its saddle: like sun through brown beer bottles. Saw specimens in Paris and London. Stuffed, stored, and safe in museums of dust. But Saddleback are beaut to gaze upon: a blur of black feathers and blaze of rust. Apparently Saddleback are dying due to multiplication of pests. But, as I am, among the trees, lying they’re beautiful: much better than breasts. I waited and, with great concentration, shot it... in the name of conservation.


Banished from Te Ika-a-Māui. Banished from all of Aotearoa. From forests in which we used to fly free, we almost went the same way as the moa. Mammals are hungry. We just can’t compete with possums, cats and rats, weasels and stoats: we’re small and we’re tasty, easy to eat. Now stuck on islands, small castles with moats, we Tīeke don’t mind isolation. But now that it is nineteen sixty-four, Humans can, and should, be our salvation. Oh look, something big has just washed ashore. Thirty-six birds fled extinction today but with these humans it won’t be okay.


Callaeidae cousins, gather around so I can tell you a tale of woe about a species which used to abound but which is now, sadly, long past gone, bro. Our feathers worn as a sign of high rank, our strange beaks studied by Darwin himself! None of it helped when our numbers did tank. Now our corpses sit on many a shelf. The Huia are gone, it’s a disgrace But cousin, Tīeke you are still there. Take it from me, existence is a race! Losing you too would be too much to bear. The Saddleback listened to his remark and said “Extinction, fuck that for a lark.”


Dear Hon. Minister of Conservation, I am writing you to ask a favour about native birds, their preservation. We need to step up efforts, be braver. Through a mix of pest eradication, education and a sanctuary we can ensure species preservation. It will cost. Saving nature isn’t free. But the cost is worth it. Let’s do a trial. Of special interest are Saddleback. We can move them, breed them. It’ll take a while. With work and money, we can bring them back. We ecologists call it translocation: a long holiday to regeneration.


Mum took me out to Karori today to see the Saddleback, my fave bird ever. We learnt about them at school from Miss Hay. They’re bros to Kōkako, but better. Orokonui was totally cool. At Tiritiri Maitangi I cried. Saving Saddleback: that should be the rule, I can’t believe we almost let them died. When I grow up I’ma save all our birds! We should have taken better care of them, you know. New Zealand skies can totes have herds of Saddleback flying free again. The Tīeke triangle: it’s where I live. I will save them, my entire life to give.


Bird of the Year encourages New Zealanders to think about our precious native birds. It highlights the threats they face, the pests we’ve introduced and the loss of habitat we are forcing on them. What I like the most about Bird of the Year is that we, as a country, have a chance to tell stories about conservation. This is important because our beautiful birds make it easier to involve everyone in a conversation about conservation. The tale of the Tīeke illustrates how we went from an avian paradise where the culture revered their link to nature to one that seems to want to actively destroy our environment. So, I am going to keep on doing things like giving people rides on my back, getting tattoos, and putting out little books of bad poetry to help raise awareness about the plight of our special native critters. And you should too. Get involved. Help save the Saddleback. Help save our environment. Help save our planet. No one else is going to do it. — JJW


“I really liked this book. A lot. That’s what you wanted me to say, right?”
— Richard Wood, Jackson’s dad

“How much are you going to pay me for using my artwork? Cough up.”
—Joshua Drummond, Artist and Writer

“These sonnets were so captivating that I almost voted Tieke.”
— Rachel Anderson-Smith, Kaka Campaign Manager

— David Slack, Kokako Campaign Manager

“I did actually vote Tieke.”

ISBN 978-0-473-22539-1 RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICES NZ $19.87 AUS $19.85 USA $19.57 FRANCE €19.53



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