Article in Northern Advocate newspaper 2006
Exhibitionist Barney prefers life as a landlubber
Meet Barney the cockatoo, an official Mangonui Hotel guest-host who greets you with a squawky "hello" and a flurry of finely preened feathers when you step through the doors of the 101-year-old establishment.
Barney's no pirate parrot, even if he loves living by the sea and spending hours in the front window pecking, strutting and entertaining pedestrians.
Nor is Barney an Aussie, even if the sulphur-crested cockatoo is generally regarded as a native of Australia. Barney spent his infant years at the Taheke Tavern, near Kaikohe. For seven years now, Barney has seen guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends -- unless, of course, you offend his sensibilities, in which case you can expect a sharp peck as he shows you the door.
Mangonui Hotel publican Paddy O'Leary says Barney just loves all the hustle and bustle of people in the pub. "He really turns it on when he's got attention.''
At 33, Barney is in his prime -- most cockatoos live to about 100. "This fella here is in good nick. He's like a young buck, wants to know everything and has an opinion on everything too when he decides he's in charge of the visitors.''
What makes Barney an exceptional host is his attitude to kids. "He's good at keeping them entertained while their parents sit back and relax with a drink or a meal.''
And he's not shy of showing off his flying skills either, but he has cut back on his flight hours after a nearly disastrous maritime adventure.
"We had a fair number of people here, and he decided to go out for a flight over the lagoon. He was going great until he did a low swoop over the water and tried to do a sharp U-turn. He clipped a wing and hit the water. He learned very quickly that he wasn't a seagull and I don't think he liked the water that much. I had to row out in the boat and rescue the silly duffer.
"He still flies but he's a lot more careful about it in case he embarrasses himself in front of people again.''