What do you see when you look at the Canterbury logo? If you’re one of the estimated 50% of New Zealanders who are oblivious to its true meaning, sit down, take a deep breath, and prepare to have your world turned upside down. Hayden Donnell reports.
You’ve probably looked at the Canterbury logo thousands of times. Seen the contours of those three Cs adorning legs and chests across New Zealand. They’re as common in shopping malls as on sports fields. The All Blacks once wore them across the front of their jerseys, beside an ad ushering young sports fans into a life of binge drinking.
But have you ever really looked at the Canterbury logo?
Truly seen it?
I’m about to tell you something that may destroy the small world you thought you knew.
Are you sitting down?
Are you ready?
There are three kiwis inside the Canterbury clothing logo.
“Wow, you’re the Woodward and Bernstein… of dumbasses,” you’re probably saying. Maybe you’re yelling something like “Big woop, word loser”, or “Nice scoop, Spinoff shit-hack.”
If so, you are one of the intelligentsia. Many New Zealanders don’t see the kiwis. They live their lives oblivious to the birds hiding in plain sight.
I’m 31 years old. I only saw them when they were pointed out to me two weeks ago. It was like I’d been living my life alone in the dark, and suddenly a beam of light had pierced the shadows. The heavy veil shrouding what I’d mistaken for reality fell away. I was seeing as if for the first time.
I’m not alone. Even professional athletes who’ve spent their lives wearing Canterbury are blind to the avian mystery emblazoned on their bodies. Former New Zealand netball representative Bailey Mes only saw the birds in the last days of her teenage years. “I probably would have been about 19 when my life changed forever,” she said.
I inducted Mes into the Order of Journalists and issued an assignment: questioning her Ferns teammates on whether they’d seen the Canterbury kiwis. Two never had: sharp shooter Maria Tutaia and ace defender Kayla Cullen. Mes reported that Cullen muttered “Those sly mofos” at the moment of revelation. Two others – Katrina Grant and Hayley Saunders – admitted they had only gained The Sight late in life.
The rugby community was initially reluctant to own up to its bird blindness. Former All Black Josh Kronfeld said he’d known since he was “about 13”. “Someone pointed it out to me,” he said. Commentator and colleague Scotty Stevenson scoffed at my search.
Former All Black loose forward Adam Thomson provided the breakthrough. Despite having grown up wearing the Canterbury logo in locations including his torso, legs, and arms, he confessed he had never noticed the elusive birds.
In 2016, then Canterbury general manager Dwayne Barrie admitted this confusion has been going on for eons. He said “at a guess” 50% of people fail to see the kiwis. Even his own father had been afflicted by the sightlessness. “I’d been working here 10 years when he came up to me and said ‘Have you ever seen the kiwis in the Canterbury logos?’,” Barrie said. “For a grown man like him – he only noticed when he was 50-odd.”
He sent through pictures from the Canterbury history wall. They revealed illusion had always been at the heart of the Canterbury logo.
The pictures seal it: this was all by design. Enigma was enshrined from the logo’s inception. Canterbury had enacted one of the greatest long-cons in clothing history. It had gleefully indulged in a three-decade campaign of trickery; one that played out on the most public of stages. But the pictures also provided an element of certainty. A single fact that we can all unite around. Whether we see the kiwis or not, we can agree on this: anyone who sees “three rolling New Zealand hills” in the logo is an idiot.
Additional reporting: Madeleine Chapman and Bailey Mes
This story originally appeared on RugbyPass.com