6 Sep 2018

The loneliest duck in Niue

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:18 pm on 6 September 2018

A couple of months ago, residents of the island nation of Niue noticed a very special visitor had arrived at their shores: a mallard duck that's since become a minor celebrity.

The high commissioner feeds the duck, the fire service maintains the puddle it lives in, and locals are fascinated by it.

Former Wellington mayor and National MP Mark Blumsky now lives on Niue, and says the story of the lonely duck is a poignant one.

The mallard duck arrived on the island around July 2018

The mallard duck arrived on the island around July 2018 Photo: Supplied

"It’s the first duck Niue’s ever had," he says. 

"We’re not sure if it came on a big wind - because we had some serious winds a wee while ago - or it’s jumped on a ship and stowed away, there was a ship here about three days before it was discovered." 

Kind-hearted locals have been keeping it as comfortable as they can. 

"We’ve had this pool of water and the locals have been filling it up and the duck sits and hangs round this pool of water that is on the side of a dirt road.

"We’re just talking a roadside pool, by the way, we’re not talking a swimming pool or a big pond, we’re talking a roadside puddle."

"There is no groundwater, there is no lakes, rivers, anything, there’s just porous rock and everything goes straight through. When it rains it all dries up in about half an hour. 

"As I’m sure you’ve figured out, it’s very hot here so the pool disappears really quick. It actually went dry yesterday … but the locals filled it back up again. 

He says the duck has become popular - including with one keen-looking rooster - but no one is quite sure what to do with it. 

"We’re just about through the rainy season and it gets pretty dry here now, so we’re not sure what’s going to happen really and it’s quite sad.

"It really is a very lonely, gorgeous-looking duck with a rooster breathing down its neck."

He says getting everyone together to come up with a solution might not work so well. 

“I think the smaller number, the harder the consensus … there’s more politics in these little islands with families and villages than you’d ever believe in Parliament." 

In the meantime, the fowl is getting by with a mixed diet, with buckets of rock melon and bok choi, among other things.

"I know the locals are throwing grain at it and pig feed at it ... not many people really know what the eating habits of the duck are, really. 

The bird doesn’t have yet a name, he says, although some people have suggested naming it after Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard..."for obvious reasons". 

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