Sep 14: Musical Bottles

Musical bottles to mimic the music of the forest.

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Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • After reading this article, do you think the ‘grey ghost’ is a good nickname for the South Island kōkako? What are some of the different ways it’s been hard to find?
  • DOC classified the bird as extinct in 2008. What are the reasons they might have done this? Do you think it was a good decision? Why or why or not?
  • The call of the South Island kōkako is described as like “a cathedral organ,” “an ethereal tolling bell call,” “indescribably mournful” and “sadly suggestive of departed spirits.” Can you imagine the call after reading all these? Do you need to do some research to make sense of these descriptions, such as listening to some pipe organ music?
  • 24 year old Geoff Reid is following in Rhys Buckingham’s footsteps to look for the lost kokako and has prioritised this volunteer work over working for money or studying, He says “The universe is my classroom; I’m trying to learn from my elders.” What do you think he might be learning from working with Rhys and being out in the bush? Do you think this is an equally good way of learning, instead of classroom learning? Why or why not?
  • Do you know the stories of the South Islandtakahē, which was discovered in the Murchison Mountains, and the NZ storm petrel, which was discovered at the back of Hauturu/Little Barrier? Why do these stories give Rhys Buckingham and others like him hope that the South Island kokako exists?

Activity: Musical Bottles

Have a go at making your own kōkako-inspired music by blowing on bottles!

You will need:

  • Empty bottles of the same size and shape – glass works best
  • Water
  • A metal spoon

Step One: Take the empty bottles and fill them to differing heights

Step Two: Blow carefully across the top of each bottle, experimenting with different ways of blowing until you get a reasonably clear ‘singing’ sound. You might find it works to rest the bottle on your lower lip – you’ll figure it out by playing around.

Step Three: Try listening for which ones make higher and lower notes – what do you observe? If you have three bottles, you can try to play a famous tune such as Hot Cross Buns. Playing a duet where one person plays one note and one plays another is also fun. To vary the experiment, try striking the bottles with a spoon – what is different about the notes they make when you play on the bottles this way?

Send us a picture of you playing your musical bottles!