Tag Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand’s Lost Horizons

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea

Thinking about leaving New Zealand I will miss the seals, sea lions, birds, ocean, and the friends-til-the-end I have made. (The photos here are all taken by my dear friend Balazs Kiglics and you can contact him about his photography work which is all amazing and happily shared.)

Besides spending many days in our offices in the University of Otago’s Languages & Cultures department together, our little group, which includes Balazs, Noi, László, Marialuisa, and Li-Jiun, often make food and go for hikes together. You will notice that none of us have Kiwi names, so there is also a bittersweet undertone to these gatherings – what would we do without one another? (More on this another time.)

Standing at the top of the Flagstaff Track in Dunedin’s Northeast Valley last week,  I thought about where we will all be soon. It will be wonderful to have people to visit in Bangkok, Taipei, Turin, and Budapest (and to have people visit me wherever I am).

I love the pinnipeds and albatrosses and all our crazy flightless birds. But for me the interior of New Zealand is bleak and silent, even though it is almost surreally stunning. The Kiwis have managed to kill off, in just a few hundred years, all nine varieties of the giant moas and scores of other bird species. Only two endemic mammals, the two breeds of short-tailed bats, live here. So coming from the comparatively  teeming forests of Bavaria and Florida, New Zealand seems silent, sad, and empty. What is Eden without animals?

He’s Laughing

Brunnen_Maedchen_mit_Seehund_von_Ferdinand_Liebermann_1930_Muenchen_Hohenzollernplatz-1
This post was actually written quite some time ago and held in reserve with about 50 other little stories under the title “Grendel’s Mother Doesn’t Have a Name!” which is now the title of a book chapter. It is actually only a little confusing, and also my devotion to pinnipeds remains unswerving.

I was inspired to revisit by sequential experiences, the first running across an adorable video of a sea otter playing a sort of tag with an Australian cattle dog. The sea otter is clearly enjoying himself, and as I watched him woof softly as he partially clambered up onto a dock, I heard myself think “…er lacht…” followed by a moment of confusion and then thinking… “… was ist das auf Englisch?” For a second I couldn’t think of the words. I have had a few fragmentary dreams in German, but this is the first time anything like this has ever happened in regular life. It was actually very pleasant and I hope it will begin to happen more often.

The other addition to this post is this image of this astounding statue watching over Hohenzollernplatz. It was made by Ferdinand Liebermann in 1930 and has withstood a lot. This is a very evocative image naturally and also reminds me of the moschophoros, which in turn puts me in mind of Knabe Mit Lamm and the poor unfortunate kids…(just a tiny image here because a whole story is coming along about this painting).

knabemitlamm