Kelly's Black Robin

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  • Dedicated to New Zealand's Chatham Island Black Robin


This short story has been written for Wattpad’s BirdLife Campaign in conjunction with the International Celebration of Birds in Storytelling. It is dedicated to New Zealand’s Chatham Island Black Robin (Toutouwai Pango).

Author’s Note:

Kelly’s Black Robin is a work of fiction; all characters—including the Moriori god of death and darkness—are products of the author’s imagination. At the end of this story you’ll find a Glossary with more detailed explanations of various Māori and Moriori words, and a Clips and Links section with more information about New Zealand's Chatham Island Black Robin and some of the places and themes etc., explored in this story. Note that spelling throughout is “Kiwi”—New Zealand—English.

Cover image courtesy Frances Schmechel (Creative Commons licence)



By Maree Anderson

“OMIGOD, JUST KILL ME NOW.” Kelly crammed the pillow against her ear in a vain attempt to block out her brother’s pig-like snores. Sharing a room with your obnoxious younger brother for an entire week? Eighth. Circle. Of. Hell. And she’d thought Mark was a pain in the butt when he was awake.

Bright light pierced a gap in the flimsy curtains, stinging her eyelids. She blinked a couple of times and snuck a glance at her watch.

Half past five in the freaking morning.

A groan escaped her lips. The tourist brochures weren’t kidding when they claimed this was the first place in the world to see the sunrise.

Mark snorted so loudly he woke himself up and half-yelled something before sleep dragged him down again. But Kelly didn’t have it in her to find his antics amusing.

Back home in Auckland  she’d be snuggled up in her own bed, in her own room—one she didn’t have to share!—blissfully dead to the world for at least another four or five hours. Eventually she would have crawled out of bed to grab a bite before  messaging her friends and planning the rest of the day. Beach. Hit the shops. Movies. Or maybe just hang at her place and gossip about boys and experiment with the new hair chalks she’d bought with her birthday money. It would have only been the best holiday ever... except her parents didn’t feel comfortable leaving her alone in Auckland, and had dragged her along with them to the bottom of the world.

Okay, okay. So Chatham Island wasn’t really the bottom of the world—it was one of a bunch of islands off the east coast of Christchurch and the title of “bottom of the world” had to go to Stewart Island and thank God they hadn’t gone there! But right here, right now, the Chathams sure felt like the back end of nowhere. Plus, Kelly and her family were slumming at a backpackers cottage, instead of staying at the Hotel Chatham where there was at least “intermittent” internet capability. This cottage didn’t even have a TV let alone internet access, and mobile phone coverage was zilch so she was completely cut off from her friends. It was torture of the worst kind. And if one more person looked at her funny for ordering chicken or a steak as a main instead of a “to die for” seafood dish she’d scream. Honestly, anyone would think she was the first tourist ever who couldn’t stomach sea—

Mark farted. Loudly. Not once, but three times.

“Ewww! Gross!” Kelly grabbed her spare pillow and was about to heave it at his cocooned form when someone rapped on the door.

“Rise and shine, kiddies!” her mum chirped as she entered the bedroom. Seeing Kelly was already awake, she walked over to Mark and shook him gently. She didn’t say anything about the smell even though Kelly could tell by the way she wrinkled her nose that it was pretty ripe over that side of the room. “We have to get going if we want breakfast before we head out fishing,” she said.

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