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Why Owls can turn their heads all the way round

Although Billie’s story comes from where she lives, Billie is really from Coromandel. Her placenta (whenua) is buried under a puriri tree at the urupa (burial ground) on Davis Point. Billie is a descendent of the Arawa waka.
 |  Billie Moana Ngaroma Cooper  | 
First some background: Billie is a student at the Kooralbyn International School, at Kooralbyn in Queensland. She was 11 when she wrote this story.

As the placenta nourished the baby in the womb, so the land nourishes us. This is the circle of life. The custom of returning the whenua (placenta) to the land connects us back to Papatūānuku, Mother Earth, who gives birth to all things. This circle of life connects Billie back to the Whitianga marae and town. She remains a part of us.


On a dark, grey day in the forest, there was Owl and her best friend, Emu. They played and played until the sun went down.

But Crocodile didn’t like their playing and wanted them to stop. He thought and thought about how he would do this as the days went by. At last, Crocodile came up with a cunning plan.

Crocodile began laughing an evil laugh thinking of his plan, and as Owl and Emu were playing, they heard Crocodile’s laugh. They went to check it out. As they got there, they saw Crocodile drinking the only water they had for a thousand miles in the forest. But they got to Crocodile too late. There was no water, no water at all.

Owl and Emu came running to Crocodile squawking, “Why did you do that? Why did you drink the only water for miles?” Crocodile ignored what Owl and Emu said and shuffled off. Owl and Emu were furious with Crocodile, and they chased him and pecked him. Crocodile got angry at being pushed around by Owl and Emu. As soon as the sun went down, Owl and Emu went home.

Crocodile’s plan came to life – he set traps where Owl and Emu played.

When morning came, Owl and Emu started to play near the traps. Owl came too close and suddenly, one of the traps worked. Owl got stuck in the thick, tight ropes made out of palm leaves. Crocodile jumped out of the bushes and with his sharp teeth, Crocodile grabbed owls head. Crocodile started to twist Owl’s head, but Emu grabbed Owl’s feet. They both tugged and twisted and tugged again. Crocodile twisted one more time and Owl’s neck muscle stretched, and her neck twisted and twisted. Then Crocodile let go. He started to cough up water. As Crocodile was coughing, Emu grabbed Owl and ran off. Owl and Emu were never in the sight of Crocodile again.

So that’s why owls can turn their heads all the way around.


The Informer kids’ story competition.

The Informer has a Mercury Twin Cinemas family pass with two combos (value $80) as a

prize to the child or young person, 13 or under, for writing the best story about the movie (see

below) or about an adventure they have had with their family cat.


• Proof that the person has been to the Cats

in the Museum movie.

• Story to be 200 words or more, preferably

in person’s own handwriting.

• An illustration – photo or drawing.

• Name, address and phone number of child

and/or parent.

• Drop entries into The Informer (or Mercury Twin Cinemas), post to 14 Monk Street, Whitianga, or email to: as an attachment.

• Entries close Friday, 14 July, 4:00pm.

• The winning entry will be published in The Informer issue of Tuesday, 18 July.

Second prize – two children’s tickets to Mercury Twin Cinemas.


Caption: A character in the story – Crocodile.