Beauty and the Beast - a Conceptional Yarn

July 2019

Once upon a time... there was a land far away from all the other continents on earth with a unique flora and fauna and no mammals - this land was later called Aotearoa and then New Zealand. Amongst numerous endemic beings was a plant nowadays known as Harakeke, Phormium tenax or New Zealand Flax. When Maori settled in Aotearoa they discovered it's many unique qualities. It was an important fibre, medicine and food plant, and to this day treated as taonga/treasure. This is the "Beauty" in my little yarn story. It shall embody the natives, the beloved, the good.

What about the "Beast"? In the 19th century some of New Zealand’s European settlers thought it would be a good idea to start a fur industry, so they introduced Australian possums to New Zealand. The Common Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) has beautiful soft and warm fur and a big appetite for plants, flowers, nectar, insects, snails, eggs, chicks and even adults of many native birds. With no natural enemies they have quickly become one of the biggest problem for the native flora and fauna (Source: https://predatorfreenz.org/resources/introduced-predator-facts/possum-facts/). There could be no better "Beast" for my yarn story. It shall embody the aliens, the hated, the bad.

Left photo: "Beauty" Harakeke (Phormium tenax), Right photo ©Nga Manu: "Beast" Common Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

Left photo: "Beauty" Muka (fibre from Harakeke leaves), Right photo: "Beast" Possum fur (naturally grey and dyed with Harakeke seed pods) on Taranaki andesite,

The story of those two is paradigmatic for New Zealand. Several immigrants, foreign cultures and introduced species have colonised and destroyed very quickly well balanced ecosystems and indigenous traditions. No wonder there is still a constant battle going on in this country between good and bad, beloved and hated, natives and aliens - Beauty and the Beast.

But what if - just like in the fairytale - "Beauty" would fall in love with the "Beast" and transform it into something adorable? What if they would bring their unique qualities together to create balance and love?

What if - just like in this yarn - we as humans, regardless where we are coming from, would use the gift of conciousness and create balance and beauty in the here and now? What if we would give power to the natives and their wisdom?

This yarn is provoking questions and it's an experiment. If all that is possible in fairytales and we can make it happen in the art of spinning, then humans must be capable of putting it into reality.

And then this story might end:

...and they all lived happily ever after!


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