Due to an early flight from Auckland and a Napier motels unwavering,late check-in policy,the computer bag acted as a pillow when I took a post-dawn seaside nap under a blanket of soft sun for cover. The two hours spent in the serenity made me wiser about the intricacies of fishing and also about New Zealands close affinity with the animal kingdom.
It started with an old man disturbing the peace with a sarcastic good morning as he settled on the bank. With an hour to kill,I loitered next to him. Soon,I was passing him ingredients as he diligently attached them to the wire hanging from his fishing rod. During the endless wait that followed as we anticipated the all-important pull from the water,he told me that he only caught the fish for the excitement of the sport,and always threw back his booty into the sea. We New Zealanders have a long association with other living beings who inhabit of this wonderful place. Just look at that, he said,pointing to a well-manicured dog in colourful woollies being escorted by a young boy.
Despite four-legged animals having an overwhelming majority over the two-legged variety in these parts,there happens to be peaceful co-existence between the two. Forget the Kiwi bird,its actually the sheep who are the national icon,while cats and dogs are treated as extended family.
Once I was directed to place in Hamilton using a pet hospital as a nearby landmark. It was a multi-coloured building with polka dot-like motifs,and a small orange car,that had caricatures painted on it,was parked on the porch. It looked more like a nursery school,but a closer look revealed that the polka dots were tiny pug-marks and the car was a cute little ambulance.
Dogs,of course,are omnipresent,but cats have their own turf. Hamiltons Waikato newspaper gives free classified space for lost or found felines. I spotted an ad by someone eager to own a de-sexed,lilac kitten.
But alongside,there was a sad insert announcing that a farmer was selling 300 of the 900 cows he owned,because of recession. In New Zealand,even animals are feeling the pinch of downsizing.