This New Zealand folk-tale explains why the little kiwi bird has no wings. In the story, the guardian of the forest asks for one bird to volunteer to move to the forest floor to control the insect population. Every bird gives an excuse, except for the selfless kiwi. It is a story of sacrifice for the greater good.
As written, there are parts for seven characters, but the cast can expand to thirty or more by adding birds. The script is two pages long and the play runs seven to twelve minutes.
Also included are:
- List of ten more birds, with lines
- Fun facts about Oceania
- Discussion questions
- Six additional drama/learning activities
Drama Notebook has a collection of six short plays from six different continents that you can use to teach a unit on stories from around the world, or plays from various cultures!
North America – Nanuk and the Hunter
South America – Cormorant and Rainbow Snake
Asia – The Monkey and the Mango
Europe – The Little Red Hen
Oceania – Kiwi’s Gift
Africa – How Anansi got his Stories
Excerpt from the play:
Pukeko the Little Hen
Pipiwharauroa the Cuckoo
A great forest in New Zealand.
Narrator One: It was late summer in New Zealand and insects were demolishing the great forest, feasting on the trees and chomping through the branches until they fell to the leaf-littered floor.
Narrator Two: Tanemahuta, the guardian of the forest was very concerned.
Tanemahuta: I must send one of the birds to protect the forest. The bird and his family will eat the insects and lessen their numbers.
Narrator One: Tanemahuta called out to all of the birds and they came flapping to the high rock, trying to find a place close to their god at the top of the kauri tree, the highest perch in the forest.
Tanemahuta: The forest needs your urgent help. The trees are being eaten alive by insects. I want one of you to move your family to the forest floor to keep their numbers in check.
Narrator Two: The birds were silent. No one wanted to move to the forest floor where it was dark and where hungry animals prowled.
Tui Bird: But we like to fly.
Pukeko: Yes, we like to be up here, away from danger.
Tanemahuta: I know it’s a big sacrifice. And I’m sure that one of you will offer yourself.
Narrator One: Tanemahuta looked at Pipiwharauroa, the cuckoo.
Tanemahuta: How about you, Pipiwharauroa? Will you give up the sunshine to protect the trees?
Pipiwharauroa: I’m too busy building my nest in the cabbage tree. And my wife will be laying eggs soon.
Tanemahuta: I see. What about you, Tui? Will you move to the forest floor?
Tui: I don’t even eat insects. Blecht. I eat nectar and honey.
Tanemahuta: I understand. What about you Pukeko? Will you consider moving?
Pukeko: They tell me that the forest floor is littered with rotting leaves. The damp will ruin my dainty feet.
Tanemahuta: Someone must be willing to move, otherwise the forest will perish, and all of us with it.