In the lead up to Christmas I want to introduce you to the Pohutukawa – the New Zealand Christmas tree. Pohutukawa is a Maori word which means “drenched in mist”. As one of the best known and most visible native trees, pohutukawa are found growing around the coastline of the upper North Island of New Zealand. They are comfortable in rugged windswept beaches, in sand and seaspray, and have a remarkable ability to cling to steep cliffs and hillsides, often seen growing in seemingly impossible locations.
The first Europeans to New Zealand named the pohutukawa ‘the New Zealand Christmas tree’ due to their brilliant bright red flowers that bloom from November to January. For generations of kiwis, the flowering pohutukawa has become one of the great icons of summer and the Christmas holiday season. The tree often features in art and literature, in poetry and songs, on photos and greeting cards and has become an important symbol for New Zealanders both at home and overseas.
Bright and colourful, the pohutukawa is cheerful and instantly recognised (by kiwis at least!) It is also a wonderful example rugged determination – the ability to grow in harsh situations where others would struggle. But not only does it survive in places of adversity, it thrives!
A picture of both beauty and determination in one (Christmas) package.