Twenty-five. A square number; the atomic number of manganese; the number usually given to the best hitter on a baseball team; the number of years marriage until a silver wedding anniversary; and the number of Florida electoral votes that swung the 2000 US Presidential Election. It’s the number of years Social Scientists reckon as one familial generation. It’s also the average life expectancies of both a tiger in captivity, and a citizen during the time of the Roman Empire. A lot can happen in twenty-five years.

And now takahē is starting out on its twenty-sixth year of publication.

According to the Department of Conservation website, the takahē is “a unique bird, a conservation icon and a survivor. The takahē has clung to existence despite the pressures of hunting, habitat destruction and introduced predators.” (Read ‘decline in arts funding’ for ‘hunting’, ‘decline of book stores’ for ‘habitat destruction’, and ‘the rise of the internet’ for ‘introduced predators’.) That the takahē has been kept back from the brink of extinction is down to the efforts of the people involved in the conservation program, passionately committed to the task of saving this astonishing creature. The same is true of takahē magazine. A reason for its longevity is that it has always had a dedicated team of people committed to its wellbeing. And, most importantly, that this team has evolved over time, with new people coming in to bring their energy and skill to the task.

It’s the story of Grandpa’s Axe – replace the handle here, or the blade there, or change some other detail of the grip or the binding or the balance. But it is still the axe of my grandfather. It is also the story of your own body – every cell within you has been replaced by new cells, over and over again, since the day you were born. Not one cell is ‘original’. Renewed, replaced, remade. But still recognisably you.

On a practical note, one change to mark is that after last year’s celebratory triple, there will only be a poetry competition this year. To be judged by the award- winning poet, Riemke Ensing, the closing date has been brought forward to August 31st. The winning poem and judge’s report will be published in the December issue of takahē, and all poems entered will be considered for publication.

In forthcoming issues, our new Arts editor, Felicity Milburn, and Cultural Studies editor, Dr. Erin Harrington, will introduce themselves. As the sixth poetry editor, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our new treasurer, Erik Kennedy, and to welcome back Catherine Fitchett (database and associated admin), to the takahē team.

The axe’s new blade is looking pretty good.

Joanna Preston
March 2015