I found it very interesting a few years ago, a fervent debate started about whether people from New Zealand are Kiwis or New Zealanders. It wasn’t so much the generational debate that occurred, but how some took offence at being called Kiwis. The Kiwi is our national bird so this made me more passionate. I can publicly state, and though to some it might be controversial, I like being called a Kiwi. Being born and raised in Aotearoa-NZ for decades I never really thought of being called anything other than a Kiwi. Living overseas, I would still call myself a Kiwi not a New Zealander to anyone I met. There were very few times anyone was confused about where I came from. Proud Kiwi to me has a nice ring to it.
Kiwi Birds to me hold a special place in my heart. This is blatantly obvious after I have created W.E.Kiwi however, once you see a Kiwi up close and personal you can see how hilarious they are. It wasn’t much of a stretch to create chubby little characters and stories. Dating back to the dinosaurs I’m sure Kiwi Birds were laughed at because of their flightless nature and there long slender beaks. They are very funny to look at, followed closely by the flightless parrot, the Kakapo. Many other creatures still fascinate me in Aotearoa-NZ. We have the ancient Tuatara, that can date back to the dinosaurs, though slightly less frightening at two feet long. The extinct Moa, a scary looking emu I thought growing up, has also stuck in my little mind over the years. But whenever I think of home I think of the Kiwi Bird.
As a kid at primary school (elementary school) learning about the Kiwi Birds led to a trip to the Auckland Zoo. There in the darkness, Room 2 of Beach Haven Primary, pushed their noses into the glass of the exhibit waiting for a Kiwi bird to walk past. When it did, sounds of astonishment rang out. We all were amazed at how they went along with their beak prodding the dirt, trying to find some lunch. There was a beat and rhythm in the way they went along. We stayed there as long as we were allowed loving every minute also, the teacher’s task of wrangling us was more difficult in the darkness. Without hesitation, our class clown Douglas, tried to poke each of us with a pencil saying it was his new beak like a Kiwi. The teacher, puzzled why we were all going, Ow Douglas !, couldn’t get us out fast enough as we did make quite a din.
When creating characters like the Kiwis of W.E.Kiwi having a bird with such comical features helped a great deal. All are somehow based on real people, living or passed on. Not all the characters have a chubby belly as I did want to mix it up a bit. Also, one trait some of the characters have is that they are fitness or recreationally-inspired. G.B.Kiwi is a bodybuilder and K.T.Kiwi is what is best described as an adrenaline junkie. Just between you and me, and don’t tell anyone, the real G.B. is more into endurance racing and the real K.T. gets most of her adrenaline watching rugby with a beer in hand/wing (especially watching the Auckland Blues). There have been many other Kiwi characters in the past but with W.E.Kiwi I have tried, and hopefully succeeded, in making Kiwi Birds more recognizable to people who have never seen a cartoon Kiwi. I still have a friend’s description ringing in my ears “your funny looking chickens”, but after explaining and showing his kids, now they know what a Kiwi Bird looks like (at least my Kiwi Birds).
So in the end, as this is the end of this small blog, I am still a proud Kiwi. I also take pride that I am trying to send Kiwi Birds around the world and make them more recognizable. Hopefully into every kid’s, and adult’s, heart on the planet.
Till next time, put the jug on.
Born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Jon grew up writing little stories in his room by himself, with help of his beloved cat and dog.
Years later at the University of Otago, while studying theatre, he would write, perform and also direct plays & comedy shows. Moving back to Auckland he continued in theatre, TV, and stand-up comedy. After winning a Fringe comedy award and being nominated for the second time in the Billy T Comedy Awards he decided to take a break. This meant travelling overseas, which led him to live in Asia, Middle East, Europe and the UK.
While all the time writing, Jon noticed that not many people around the world knew about Kiwi Birds. This led to the creation of W.E.Kiwi.
Returning back to NZ to look after K.B.Kiwi – who was very sick, meant every night was ”the writing time”, when all the energy was back to writing stories, kids’ books and poems about animals (and kreating creatures).
Jon’s fun Kiwi spirit and his sense of humour help in creating more and more Kiwi-centred content. We really hope you can join us on the journey.
Stay tuned for more.