Monday, September 5, 2011
The nation's eyes were on the Southern Ocean today when Labour leader Phil Goff was given back his freedom and released into the sea.
Thousands of New Zealanders have taken this plucky little chap to their hearts since he was found stranded at the top of the Labour Party.
Bewildered and lost, he kept making flapping motions that—scientists say—were a desperate attempt to get people's attention.
Dubbed 'Happy Phil' because of his fixed smile, he survived for months on a diet of dead rats.
But his keepers inside the party were growing increasingly concerned about him.
When they said it was time for him to go, the navy came to the rescue.
The frigate Helen's Legacy weighed anchor at 51 degrees south earlier today and Happy Phil was brought on deck.
Though a little reluctant to go at first, he was soon walking along a specially designed plank, helped by a few encouraging nudges from keepers equipped with long poles.
A final prod, a last smile, a splash—and he was free.
'It is a far, far better place he has gone to,' said skipper Captain Ahab Cunliffe.
Happy Phil has been fitted with a GPS tracking device so we can all follow his progress. First he went left, then right, then left again before doubling back on his tracks, then standing on his head. Scientists say he may never be the same again.
The Helen's Legacy was last seen wallowing in heavy seas, with a terrible list.
Posted by Denis Welch at Monday, September 05, 2011