The Chook Incident

Mid-winter on Waiheke is a quiet time. However, a chook controversy has rocked the island, or at least Rocky Bay. Two camps have emerged: pro-chook and con-chook. Steve and I are firmly pro-chook.

A little background. A growing flock of chooks (chickens and roosters) has been resident at the entrance to the Onetangi Sports Park for some time. They often panhandled anyone nearby and occasionally stood in the bus shelter looking like tiny commuters. This is where I park for my morning run, so I had become familiar with the personalities, even naming one Madonna for her resemblance to the rock star. One morning as I started my run I had the feeling that someone was following me. The park maintenance crew happened to be working nearby with the radio in their truck playing loud rap music. I looked back over my shoulder and what I saw I will always remember: a flock of maybe two dozen chickens running after me--with that strange side-to-side chicken run--in perfect time to the rap music. How could I not love these guys?

About two weeks ago the chickens disappeared; only a few feathers remained. We were perplexed. Could it have been the hawks that we know have taken the odd chook? Did someone want roast chicken for dinner? Where did the chooks go? Did they finally make it onto the bus?

Soon five tiny white crosses appeared by the roadside and one large one was nailed to the fence. The large one, decorated with flowers and a wreath, said the chickens would be sadly missed. By the next day, however, a new sign had appeared: “Free Rooster Soup, Ostend Market”. Clearly two camps were emerging.

It seems several people had complained to the council that the chooks were a road hazard and they had been “impounded” to an unknown location. The Gulf News carried the letters of several people who were distressed about the loss of the chooks. They expressed the opinion that the chooks were not the problem, the people driving big cars too fast were the real hazard.

This poem also appeared in The Gulf News:

The Roosters by Robyne Winton

What were your names,
Jim, Jack or John?
Whatever they were
I’m sorry you’ve gone.
You were always there
no matter the weather.
Yesterday …
just the odd small grey feather.
Your feathers were lovely,
an artist’s palette
and as I drove past
your strut made my day.
Your loss is our loss,
no longer the boss
of this patch.

As of last week, one chook had returned and someone had left it lots of feed and water. I guess you can’t keep a good chook down especially on an island with lots of chickens.

Weekend update: the battle of the signs has begun again. See photos.


Last update:
Monday, December 27, 2004
Copyright 2004 - Ellen Freda