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228 Main Rd, Tairua 3508

P: 07 864 7204

M: 027368 1181

Open every day

10.00am to 4.00pm


us on:

‘The Little Gallery of Fine Arts’

The little GALLERY

of fine ARTS

Original artwork

Exclusive artists

Limited edition


Eclectic collections

Diverse styles

Onsite Artist

The little GALLERY of fine ARTS

offers a little of the best

on the Coromandel.

Souzie Speestra’s paintings reflect a lifelong love affair with the

sea and the Hahei area which she now calls home. Her use of

lustrous bright colors captures the essence of NZ. View Souzie’s

popular art at Bread & Butter in Whitianga and The Little Gallery

of Fine Arts in Tairua. Visit

part article we wrote in


(See the online archived

versions of Issues 1 and 2 for the stories at

One such tree is ‘Kohatumaurakau’ or “Tree Holding

Stone’ on Tairua’s Beach Road. It has entwined itself

around a huge stone which was considered sacred. It was here many

Maori buried the placenta or umbilical cord of their babies, as was

custom, in any crevice that could be found. “If this stone could speak,

the stories it must hold.” suggested Moana.

The rich symbolism of the Pohutukawa embracing the beginning and

end of life explains the celebrated spiritual significance and importance

of this magnificent tree, and how it had such an easy time being

adopted as the Kiwi Christmas tree, a stunning local equivalent for the

traditional red berries and leaves of the holly branch. The tree even

inspired “A Pohutukawa Carol,” written by homesick WWII chaplain Ted

Forsman in which he made reference to “your red tufts, our snow”.

In his stunning book,

Pohutukawa and Rata, New Zealand’s Iron-hearted


, Philip Simpson celebrates the Pohutukawa and Rata. retelling

many stories that have contributed to their becoming such “beloved

symbols of Aotearoa…” He dubs them ‘iron-hearted’ due to their

extraordinarily strong wood, and details the particular adaptations that

enable their proliferation in our coastal margins and forests.

Simpson explains that “according to one whakapapa (genealogy),

Pohutukawa is descended from Tangaroa, the god of the sea, and two

of his offspring, Hutu… and Kawa. The tree is sometimes known as

Hutukawa which is also the name for a ceremonial headdress made of

red feathers, worn by esteemed leaders.” (See bottom of page.)


Many Pohutukawa were planted by Maori to mark places of

importance. At Tapu Point on the Whangarei Harbour, trees grow at

a battle site, and more exist on the pa (fort) site at Butler Point at

Whangaroa Harbour. The banks of Lake Tarawera have groves of some

highly valued Pohutukawa and Tuhua (Mayor Island) is renowned for its

huge specimens.

The density of the wood made Pohutukawa difficult for Maori to work

with – too heavy to float and too hard to shape – but was traditionally

used for weapons, anchors, tools, lintels, walking sticks, and fish

hooks. There were also a multitude of medicinal uses, and Pohutukawa

sawdust gives a sweet flavour and golden hue when smoking fish. It

was a valuable firewood as it burns even when still green.

The wood was used by early colonists for a wide range of building

projects, particularly where durability was required, which led to the

common name of ‘ironwood’. Pohutukawa wood has even been used in

ship building; during World War II 45 tugboats were built for the US Navy

and Army and 14 more for British and NZ forces.

Honey from Pohutukawa is mild with a salty taste and sets hard rapidly

due to its very high glucose content. It must be removed from the comb

on harvest day and creamed quickly. Queen Elizabeth was sent six five-

pound tins on the event of her coronation by NZ beekeepers and it is

rumoured that she still enjoys it on her toast for breakfast.

However, the symbolism most dear to the Kiwi heart is that the

blossoms herald the holiday season, and its carpet of blossoms

decorate our beaches for the long days of enjoying the Summer sun.

Vintage charmers

May Gibbs

produced a comic strip (and

later books) featuring two Pohutukawa

fairy babies called Hutu and Kawa, who

lived in the bush with friends such as

Willy Weka and advisor Grandpa Kiwi.

Far ahead of their time, these 1950s

Kiwi classics show a real concern

for the preservation of our precious

wildlife and the environment.