They're back! Nuggety international tourists, they are the cast members of the original biological real life epic: Mission Impossible. I miss them when they're gone. Just this week, thousands of migrating godwits show up on our shores, catching up with old friends and helping themselves to Northland's best known resource; rich sea-food. Right when you think winter will never end and just when the kowhai starts flowering to prove you wrong - they're back. I like their style.
These are good-time gourmands who know that if the odds are stacked against you, you'd better have a good strategy. They're not airliners like the albatross; they're not even sea birds - and they can't touch down and have a rest on the waves if they feel like it. Yet they cross 11,000km of ocean to spend the summer in Aotearoa. Many home-sick Kiwis living in dingy flats in London or teaching English on the 52nd floor of some high rise in Japan or Korea will know the feeling.
The godwits know, as we should, that if you've got mission impossible ahead - you need to stack the cards in your favour. Eat really well. Keep good company - don't go it alone.
Wait for a decent tail wind and then ... just do it. And keep doing it until it's done. Spend the summer enjoying the good times. The godwit recipe for success.
They are the hard-case battlers of the bird world and the epitome of what one of my friends calls the "regardless principle". Her idea, and I think it's a good one, is that most people do things "because". Because it's easy. Because they have a native talent for it. Because there's money in it. Because they have the beauty, encouragement or finances to do it. She believes (after years of being a successful corporate hustler) if you're going to pick your team - you look for those who are operating under the "regardless principle" and not the "because" one. She looks for old school tenacity and resilience. They'll get the job done regardless of lack of resources, encouragement or even the fact that "it's not their job".
It's something I've noticed in education too. Often, it's not the kid who has the easy talent who achieves later on - it's the one who battles a bit but has a mental strength and faith they'll get there if they persevere who ultimately succeeds. We have a history of that same ethos in the first people who arrived here and in the later gum-diggers who came to start new lives.
Maybe it's time to start celebrating our diversity and resilience in the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are and where we're going. This weekend has a rich pick of family events to celebrate the place we love. The Festival of Lights and Art welcomes in the spring and is part of Hannah Mitchell's work with Unicef to make Whangarei a child and youth friendly city where kids feel they really belong. I'm also proud to launch my new kids' book, Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly at Whangarei library this Saturday; a joint project with Unicef which receives royalties from the sale of each book. We come from a rich and diverse place. It's why we're not the only ones who love it.