Everyone knows about the kiwi and the tuatara, but New Zealand also has four unique native frogs (genus Leiopelma) that aren’t found anywhere else: Archey’s frog, Hamilton’s frog, Hochstetter’s frog and Maud Island frog.
Archey’s is one of the most ancient frogs in the world – its ancestors were alive at the time of the dinosaurs about 70 million years ago. It is also incredibly rare and is number one on the international ‘Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered’ species list.
Archey’s frog is tiny (only 37mm fully grown) and can fit on your fingertip.
When I starting researching I discovered that Archey’s is so ancient and
primitive that it doesn’t have ‘normal’ froggy features: it doesn’t croak, it doesn’t have an external eardrum, it doesn’t have a long tongue, it doesn’t jump, and there are no tadpoles. Poor little frog, I thought.
My first attempt at writing a song about Archey’s frog was a plaintive dirge that could have been played at someone’s funeral. I should point out that I was recovering from an illness at the time, so felt like a weak little Archey myself.
About a year later I had another go. This attempt was much more positive, and encouraged Archey to take his rightful place in the spotlight alongside more famous species unique to NZ.
I sent the demo off to my talented Australian friend Adam Page.
Adam is a distinctive bloke with a bald head and long beard. We had worked together previously on fleaBITE’s award-winning album CIRCUS OF FLEAS, and although a few years had gone by, I gave him a bell. Adam is always positive and enthusiastic and working on a million things at the same time. But yes, there were three days available in 3 months time.
Adam is best known as a saxophonist, but he can play almost every instrument. He heated up my Archey’s demo with a New Orleans piano feel, added groovy bass and some vocal percussion. Yesssss…now the song was cooking!
I aimed to get the song out on International Frog Day (March 20, 2020), and
while it was a last-minute dash for the finishing line, we made it…just, and my Christchurch pal Geni McCallum whipped up a lyric video in record time.
So put your dancing shoes on, and let’s celebrate little Archey’s frog, a unique New Zealand treasure, and our link to the dinosaurs…Hit it, Archey!
NZ Frog website:
Department of Conservation:
(runs a captive breeding programme for Archey’s frogs, and assists the
Department of Conservation (DOC) with annual surveys and censuses of
Archey’s frogs in Whareorino Forest).
Te Ara Encyclopedia of NZ