Compass Rose: Synopsis

Compass Rose & the Birdnesters


It is the early 19th century and Queen Victoria is on the throne in England. An ocean away in the far Pacific, the HMS Shearwater, with famous explorer Captain McAlister at the helm, is nearing the mysterious Island at the End of World’. Locked in her cabin for disobedience (and not doing her homework) is his wanna-be explorer daughter, Constance Rose.

Already on the apparently deserted island is ex-pirate Captain Jack Daw and his crew. They’re birdnesting – collecting rare bird eggs for a rich baron back in England. Since this is against the law, they hide themselves as soon as the navy ship is spotted.

Constance escapes from her cabin, rows to the island and goes exploring. Unfortunately, the first thing she discovers is her father and the crew. After a lecture on following orders, she’s locked back in her cabin. Captain McAlister informs his crew of his secret orders; to capture the birdnesters reported in the area. Lookouts are posted, a cannon set up and the botanists start collecting animals.

Constance escapes from her cabin again. She talks a marine into letting her fire the cannon which hits a lookout tree. The marine is blamed and thrown in the brig. She convinces a second marine to allow her to hold an unusual talking parrot and lets it escape. Again, the marine is blamed and thrown in the brig. Then the marines bring in Captain jack, posing as a castaway. He tells Constance the ‘story’ of his shipwrecking and she foolishly lets him know about her father’s orders. Captain Jack tricks her into freeing him, he escapes and the marine guards are also thrown in the brig.

Realising the trouble she’s caused, Constance decides to sleep the night on the island.

Captain Jack sends a fake message by carrier pigeon to the navy ship ordering them to chase the birdnesters supposedly heading towards South America. Captain McAlister orders everyone back on the ship and thinking Constance safe in her cabin, sails away.

Constance wakes up to find everyone gone. She is very excited; now she can explore the island. The parrot returns and she chases it, watched by an islander boy, Poki. Poki has been ordered to hide and watch the Birdnesters and the Navy but the two children meet and the Moai Hoa Hakananai’a uses Mana to allow them to understand each other’s language. Poki’s people are hiding from the Birdnesters and their guns but the talking parrot overhears Constance and flies off squawking the secret. Poki and Constance chase the parrot, finally capturing it.

Poki spots the Birdnesters’ ship in the bay. Constance, despite Poki’s pleading, fires the cannon at the ship and sinks it. The Islanders appear and Chief Matato’a, Poki’s father, throws a feats to celebrate. Poki sulks at this apparent reward for disobedience. The not-quite-sunk Birdnesters observe the feast, hear of the forthcoming Birdman contest and hatch a plan.


Constance convinces Poki to go adventuring – exploring just for fun. Poki begins to reluctantly enjoy himself and takes Constance up to the Moai quarry where they learn the secret of how the Moais are moved.

Constance spots a cave and despite Poki’s warnings, wants to explore. Inside are the Birdnesters, hiding. They capture Poki and demand that Constance help them win the Birdman contest.  With his ship sunk, he plans to use the islanders to capture the HMS Shearwater when it returns for Constance. She is forced to agree. Poki calls her a traitor.

Constance and the Birdnesters disturb Hoa Hakananai’a’s dreams and when time comes for the statue to announce the contestants for the island’s next chief, Captain Jack’s name is on the list. Each contestant chooses a Hopu – their runner in the competition – who must scale a cliff, swim across shark infested waters and wait on the tiny island of Motu Nui for the first Manutara Bird egg.

Chief Matato’a has chosen Poki, but he is still held captive. Captain Jack chooses Constance, and to her horror, she discovers she has no choice in the matter. She must compete to help Captain Jack become Chief.

The Birdman Contest begins. The Hopus descend the cliff, with added danger from the Birdnesters throwing rocks. The Hopus swim to the island and wait for the Manutara Bird. It lays an egg next to Constance and she is proclaimed the Birdman.

Then the Birdnesters appear in Constance’s rowboat. They claim Poki has fallen overboard  and drowned. After a scuffle Constance’s egg is broken. Captain Jack finds a replacement and heads back to the main island. Constance is distraught. She realises her disobedience has caused all the trouble, and now Captain Jack will be made chief.

Poki appears, having deliberately disobeyed Captain Jack and jumped overboard. He convinces Constance that although her egg is broken, it is still the true egg. Using that belief, the egg’s Mana changes them to birds and they fly back to the island.

Back on the island, Captain Jack believes himself to be chief. Even when Poki and Constance appear, he refuses to take her egg since it is broken. Constance gives the egg to Poki, who gives it to his father who is now chief again. Chief Matato’a uses the egg’s Mana and turns Captain Jack into Polly. The Birdnesters run away in horror.

The HMS Shearwater returns. Captain McAlister, believing his daughter has learned nothing from her behaviour and sends her once again to her cabin. But this time she obeys. Chief Matato’a then explains how she has finally learned that sometimes orders are important enough to obey. Captain McAlister orders her release and together they set off to explore the island.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.