A real life love story involving a male goose and a male swan, who lived together on the Waimanu Lagoons in Waikanae Beach for many years, has been turned into an enchanting children's book.
Michael Peryer, who knew the feathered pair well, has written the book Thomas: A True New Zealand Love Story which is beautifully illustrated by Susan Wildblood.
"It's such an iconic tale and a unique story to Kāpiti," he said.
"It's teaching children tolerance, acceptance, and things like that, because these two birds were different.
"And to have a male goose and a male swan together for so long was absolutely incredible."
The book celebrates the bond between a white male goose called Thomas and a black male swan called Henry whose partnership spanned 18 years.
Henry, who had an injured wing and couldn't fly, had been living alone at the lagoon for eight years after other swans he had lived with flew off elsewhere.
But his solitary lifestyle changed one day when Thomas appeared and they formed an inseparable friendship.
The pair became well-known to people who lived around the lagoons especially Eileen Thomas, yes the surname is correct, who they would gravitate to when they heard her calling them.
One day the local council decided there were too many geese on the lagoons and some of them had to be relocated.
"To make sure Thomas and Henry wouldn't be separated Eileen rushed down and marked Thomas' feathers with red food dye," Michael recalled.
One fateful day, another black swan, a female called Henrietta, came along and Henry fell in love with her.
Thomas felt put out especially when Henrietta made a nest and started laying eggs, but despite some early protestations, he soon got used to the situation.
Over the next six years Henry and Henrietta hatched 82 eggs and 68 of the cygnets grew up and eventually flew away.
Thomas helped to raise them all.
But nothing lasts forever and one sad day Henry died and was found lying under a willow branch with his head tucked under his wing.
Lots of people came to Henry's funeral and he was buried next to the lagoon where he had spent the past 30 years of his life.
Thomas spent a lot of his last years at Iris and John Robson's lagoon-side house where he enjoyed a varied daily breakfast such as leftover catfood spread on two slightly dampened pieces of grain bread cut into squares, with an apple or banana, some duck pellets and corn.
Eventually Thomas lost his sight and was relocated to Craig Shepherd's bird rehabilitation centre in the Wellington region where he lived safely for five years.
He had one memorable excursion when he was taken to hospital to visit Eileen.
"The nurses couldn't believe it," Michael said.
When Thomas died of old age he was taken back to the lagoons and buried next to his beloved friend Henry.
Michael said the bond between Thomas and Henry was "a pretty cool story".
"I'm very happy with the book and think it will go all around the world."
The launch of Thomas: A True New Zealand Love Story will be held at the Waikanae estuary carpark, which is at the southern end of Tutere St, on Sunday November 1 from 2pm.
There will be a live band, Mr Whippy, vintage cars and book signing.