by Jeanne-Marie Cantereau
“Years ago we purchased a home in Thames with
a large kowhai tree I could see from my studio.
When in bloom first to arrive was kereru (wood
pigeon) then tui, and the war began.
I saw the tui puff itself up – obviously to make
itself bigger and more threatening to the kereru.
Then the tui thrust its long curved beak at the
much bigger bird, driving it out of the tree.
For days the tui defended the kowhai – with
amazing aerobatics and speed, loud flapping
of wings, and tireless singing – all to remind the
kereru and other tui that he was claiming this tree
as his territory. All this stopped my painting as I
watched the daily drama.
As an artist, loving NZ birds for their iridescent,
bright and beautiful colours, I was inspired and
enchanted to capture this wonderful gift of nature.
And the medium of watercolour allows me to
express the constant movement of these birds.”
LOCAL ARTISTS LOVE FOR THE TUI
ENJOY TUI IN YOUR OWN GARDEN
by Monique Rush
“I painted this from a photo
I took of a plump Tui sitting
on my flax at home. He
was very content with me
photographing him so close.
He looked so confident,
grand and important. He
reminded me of a great
Maori chief, looking over
his land and people.With
his feathers fluffed up as if
it were his sacred cloak. I
have kept only a handful of
the paintings I create and
this is one of my favourites.”
There’s no doubting that NZ native tui are one
of the most visually pleasing birds of all to find
in our gardens, and few others’ song can rival
the variety of trills, screeches, clicks, and ‘rusty
gate’ noises they delight us with.
So it’s no wonder we want to find ways to encourage
tui to our gardens. How? The tui’s long curved beak
and thin tongue are specially adapted to reach
into tubular flowers, so those types of plants will
always attract them. They also inadvertently
help with pollination as they transfer pollen
from one flower to the next. You may even
see pollen on their face or head.
You may already have plants that draw
them to the area like flax, (Phormium)
kowhai, (Sophora) and the humble
Pittosporum flowers. Other native NZ
plants that naturally occur on
the Coromandel and will entice
them include karo and other
Pittosporum, five finger
pohutukawa (Metrosideros), Corokia, and the climber
They are particularly attracted to the non-natives
Taiwanese cherry, or
include Felix Jury, Okama and Superba, Rowan
trees (Sorbus), firethorn (Pyracantha), flame tree
(Brachychiton acerifolius), red hot pokers (Kniphofia),
flowering gums (Eucalyptus) and the succulent aloes.
Although their most preferred food is nectar, they’ll also
munch into insects (like cicadas and even stick insects).
Create a perch or platform for whole berries and seeds,
provide fresh water, and they are sure to return year on
year, especially in winter when their natural sources of
sustenance are less available. To get a close up view,
dissolve a tablespoon of sugar in a cup of water, and
place (preferably in a red container) nearby yet out of
reach of cats. Replace with a fresh batch each couple
of days to avoid contamination.
One word of caution, Rhododendron are poisonous to
tui. If you have them planted near similarly coloured
flowering plants tui are attracted to, they may
inadvertently feed on this toxic plant that could mean
Want some help? For plant advice and/or garden planning,
ring Sandra Scott of Sandscapes Landscape Design, a
specialist in native NZ plants and coastal garden design. 07
866 2656 or 021 030 6614.
by Jane Galloway
Made by doing many detailed botanical paintings in
watercolour which are then photographed and the plant/
bird layers assembled using Photoshop.
After the cold, rain and gales of winter,
it’s like a ray of sunshine hearing the tui’s bell-like
notes as it feeds in the neighbour’s bottlebrush.
Local gardens keep tui near and as spring becomes
summer, their song is the accompaniment to my daily
work in the studio.
A few summers ago I spotted a dead tui on the
road as I left for my morning walk. After that, and for
the next two summers, its mate constantly called
from the tallest kanuka, the same pattern of sounds
over and over.
We are privileged to have these remarkable wild birds
living so close, sharing their colour and character.