Tahi. One Lucky Kiwi Activities

Tahi, one lucky kiwi

written by Melanie Drewery

illustrated and designed by John O’Reilly and Ali Teo

published by Random House, 1997

This is the true story of Tahi the kiwi, who needed to have a leg amputated after getting caught in a spring jaw trap. It tells how the people at Weta Workshop built an artificial leg for him, so that he could live effectively as a kiwi and be able to forage for food. The main text in the book tells the story through the voice of a young boy sharing news with his classmates and teacher. The book ends with the class visiting the kiwi at the zoo. In addition to this main text, there is a sub-text, in notebook form, which provides the reader with facts about the kiwi and its protection. There is a strong conservation theme throughout the book, reminding the reader that we need to protect our endangered native birds. Illustrations are presented in a variety of ways – a combination of cartoon, painting and photographs help to make the story attractive and interesting for the reader.

Please note that these activities are suggestions which have not yet been trialled. We welcome any feedback on how they play out in the classroom (see the feedback section).

Activity 1: ENDANGERED SPECIES (Science/ English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1 ,2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing
Activity 1. At the beginning of the story we read that kiwi are an endangered species. Ask the children:
  • What does this word ‘endangered’ mean?

Establish that it is our job, as New Zealanders, to protect our kiwi and keep it safe, so that it does not become extinct.

  • How can we look after the kiwi?
  • Why are kiwi special to us as New Zealanders? Why do we want to look after them?

At Level 3, students can use books or go online to research other native New Zealand creatures that are endangered, eg. dolphins, sea lions, bats, other birds and fish.

2. Tell the children that they are going to create a poster which tells everyone that we need to look after our endangered species.

  • At Level 1, this will be a simple poster about the kiwi – with a title, illustration and some writing about why we need to look after our kiwis.
  • At Level 2, children can add more information and detail. The main message will be about protecting our endangered kiwi, however they could also include: a labeled diagram, a map, some information about kiwi’s native habitat – examples of all of this information are shown in the book.
  • At Level 3, students may choose another endangered species to research and make a poster about. They should keep the main message about protecting endangered species, but could include sub-text giving information about their creature, location and habitat – as at Level 2.

3. Working in pairs or groups, decide what information needs to go on your poster and consider the layout. Remember that the main message needs to be very clear.

  • Which parts are the most important and therefore need to be biggest?
  • What colours could be used to be the most eye-catching?
  • Where should the text and the illustrations go?
  • Will there be a border?

4. When children have planned their posters, they can begin creating the ‘good copy’ and adding colour.

5. Share and discuss effective aspects of each others’ posters. Display.

  • Information books and internet access (for Level 3)
  • Large paper for posters
  • Pencils, felts, pens
Taking it further
  • · Students could share their messages by presenting their posters to another class, or school assembly (English/ Science)
  • · Send copies of the posters to The Department of Conservation (DOC) – they might even use them! (English/ Science)
Curriculum Links Science: Living World

Life Processes

  • recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive (Level 1 & 2)
  • recognise that there are life processes common to all living things and that these occur in different ways (Level 3)


  • recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat (Level 1 & 2)
  • explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced (Level 3)


  • explain how we know that some living things from the past are now extinct (Level 1 & 2)
  • explore how the groups of living things we have in the world have changed over long periods of time and appreciate that some living things in New Zealand are quite different from living things in other areas of the world (Level 3)


Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise that texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences (Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences (Level 3)

Speaking, Reading and Writing

  • recognise how to shape texts for a purpose and an audience (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of how to shape texts for different purposes and audiences (Level 2)
  • shows a developing understanding of how to shape texts for different purposes (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At higher levels, students could explore the greater repercussions of extinction by looking at how ecosystems work as a whole, both in New Zealand and in other parts of the world. They could explore endangered species in other parts of the world, and what is being done to protect them.

Activity 2: PROSTHETIC LIMBS (Technology)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity In the story, a special prosthetic limb is made for Tahi so that he can walk and scratch for food.

1. After reading the story, discuss Tahi’s prosthetic leg.

  • Why was it important that Tahi had a new leg?
  • What did Tahi’s prosthetic leg need to be like/ have, in order to work for him?
  • What materials were used to make the leg? Why do you think they used these materials?

2. Look closely at the diagram of the prosthetic leg and discuss. It might be a good idea to blow this diagram up so that children can see the drawing and the writing clearly. Notice how the arrows point to parts of the pictures, and then the writing tells us what it is made of and what each part does, as well as how it attaches to Tahi’s stump.

3. Working in pairs, ask the students to design prosthetic limbs for a variety of animals. Each pair could work on one animal each, then come back and share their ideas with the group.

  • At Level 1, children will produce a picture and talk about how it works, and the materials they might use.
  • At Level 2, children should be able to produce a labeled diagram, such as the example in the book. They should be able to identify reasons for choosing the materials they have used.
  • At Level 3, students will need to explain their diagrams in detail. They may identify several possible materials which could be used, and test them to find the most suitable.

Some ideas:

  • butterfly wing
  • crab claw
  • horse leg
  • flamingo leg
  • cat paw

4. At Level 3, students could research online or in books to find out how prosthetic limbs have developed over time.

  • What did they used to be made out of?
  • What happened before prosthetics?
  • How has it helped society?

Find examples of great accomplishments by people using prosthetic limbs

Eg. Mark Inglis (climbed Mount Everest)


Mark Inglis:


Curriculum Links Technology

Brief development

  • describe the outcome they are developing and identify the attributes it should have, taking account of the need or opportunity and the resources available (Level 1)
  • explain the outcome they are developing and describe the attributes it should have, taking account of the need or opportunity and the resources available (Level 2)
  • describe the nature of an intended outcome, explaining how it addresses the need or opportunity. Describe the key attributes that enable development and evaluation of an outcome (Level 3)

Technological products

  • understand that technological products are made from materials that have performance properties (Level 1)
  • understand that there is a relationship between a material used and its performance properties in a technological product (Level 2)
  • understand the relationship between the materials used and their performance properties in technological products (Level 3)

Characteristics of technology

  • understand that technology is purposeful intervention through design (Level 1)
  • understand that technology both reflects and changes society and the environment and increases people’s capability (Level 2)
  • understand how society and environments impact on and are influenced by technology in historical and contemporary contexts and that technological knowledge is validated by successful function (Level 3)
Taking it further Invite a guest speaker to come and speak to the class about their own experiences of living with a prosthetic limb (Health)
Applications for Level 4 and above Students can further explore the development of artificial limbs, in particular the materials selected for specific purposes. They could design and build a prosthetic limb through to completion.
Activity 3: NEW ZEALAND NATIONAL ICONS (Art/ Social Science)
NZ Curriculum Level 1,  2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
Activity 1. At the beginning of the story we are told that the kiwi is a great ‘New Zealand icon’.
  • What is an ‘icon?’
  • What are some other New Zealand icons?

Brainstorm a list of other New Zealand icons – for example, silver fern, marmite, pohutukawa tree, jandals, flax kete, tiki…

  • Why do we need to have icons for New Zealand?

Because it helps us to have our own identity. It makes us special and unique from all the other countries in the world. These icons are things which are special to New Zealand.

2. In groups, children use the icons to create a large piece of artwork which reflects New Zealand.

  • At Level 1, this will probably be a single icon.
  • At Levels 2 and 3, it may involve a variety of icons which are laid out or overlapped to create one piece.

3. Share and display.

  • Images of New Zealand icons
  • Large sheets of paper
  • Paint, felt pens, crayons, coloured paper (if using collage)
Taking it further
  • Use printmaking techniques or collage to create some New Zealand art (Visual Art)
  • Create a KidPix slideshow which identifies kiwi icons (and explains their significance – at Level 3) (Visual Art/ English)
  • Find out about the national icons of other countries (Social Science)
  • Have a dress up day where children can dress as a New Zealand icon (Social Science)
Curriculum Links Social Science
  • understand how belonging to groups is important to people (Level 1)

The Arts

Visual Art

  • share ideas about how and why their own and others’ works are made and their purpose, value, and content (Level 1 & 2)
  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 1 & 2)
  • share the ideas, feelings, and stories communicated by their own and others’ objects and images (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures and identify the contexts in which they were or are made, viewed and valued (Level 3)
  • explore some art-making conventions, applying knowledge of elements and selected principles through the use of materials and processes (Level 3)
  • describe the ideas their own and others’ objects and images communicate (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 5, students will need to investigate the contexts and influences of the icons used in their art. At Level 6 they should be researching and analysing the influence of relevant contexts on their artwork.