A Love Story

Memorial to Henry – A Special Swan

By the Birdman of the Lagoons
12th November 2009
Swan 1
Pictures kindly supplied by Mik Peryer

A love story which has enthralled not only Kapiti Coasters but visitors from all over the world will be celebrated on Saturday, November 14, at the Waimanu Lagoons, Waikanae when a plaque commemorating the life of Henry, Swan, is unveiled at 1.00 pm.

Henry had an injured wing and lived at the Lagoons for 28 years, many of them in a close friendship with Thomas the Goose.   When Henrietta swanned in, the three birds formed an extraordinary ‘ménage a trois’.

Mik Peryer, the Birdman of Waikanae, conducts tours of the Lagoons and Waikanae River Estuary, sharing his knowledge of the dozens of species of water birds which call this place home. KAPITI BIRD TOURS

He has worked for months to ensure a unique saga is never forgotten.

“Henry and Henrietta were together for over six years raising an incredible number of cygnets,” says Mik.

“Because Henry could not fly, Thomas the Goose became uncle to each successive brood of babies – swimming with them; and keeping them safe while Henry and Henrietta were doing their own thing – eventually teaching them to fly,” he says.

The love triangle became an attraction for visitors enjoying quiet walks around the Lagoons.

Following Henry’s death earlier this year (he was about 36 years old – ancient, in Swan terms), Mik decided to dedicate a quiet spot on the Lagoon banks to his memory.

Kapiti Coast District Council has arranged for a large rock to be placed over Henry’s grave — and Pinky Agnew, New Zealand’s well-known professional speaker, poet, celebrant and raconteur, is coming from Wellington to read a poem which she has written for the event..

Swan 2Everyone is invited to join the commemoration ceremony when the plaque on “Henry’s Rock” will be unveiled.

Tea and coffee will be provided and people are asked to bring a plate to share.   Those wishing to make a picnic with family and friends are welcome to do so.

Mik will conduct guided tours of the Lagoons following the unveiling.

Pinky Agnew has kindly supplied us a copy of her poem for all to read and enjoy.


They found the old swan, gently gone
The willow shading his rest
Beak tucked into his cold wing’s fold
Henry lay in his final nest.
Three decades old, this big black bird,
Love found him a curious mate.
A white goose, Thomas, shared his life,
And his estuarine estate.
Other birds came and swam and went
None cut between this pair
Till one day Henry’s neck arched up
As great black wings beat the air.
She came down red beak a-flash with fire
Soon sinuous necks entwined
Thomas, chilled, bobbed in their wake
As the two swans’ hearts aligned.
What Henrietta saw in the old swan’s eyes
Was a loyalty ever true
Henry wanted a family, yes
But Thomas was family too.
And so the three enjoined their lives
Reared scores of cygnet chicks
Companionably swam and spooned and such
But for lovers, time still ticks.
Two birds swim now, lulled it seems
By cicadas’ dull summer buzz
Even a great heart like Henry’s dies,
But a great love never does.

© Pinky Agnew

Pinky Agnew