Out with the monarchy, in with the pōhutukawa

On Christmas Eve Heather du Plessis-Alan pointed out the growing differences between the traditional (northern hemisphere) Christmas and our summer celebration in the south, and likens this to the separation from the archaic other side of the world monarchy.

NZH: Heather du Plessis-Allan: Kiwis need to step up, be proud, and dump pines for pōhutukawa

I blame it on the pōhutukawa. There’s nothing more Kiwi than a pōhutukawa. They mark our summers for us.

If the red blooms arrive early, we know summer has come early.

Summer arrived early in Dunedin, pōhutukawas are already alight with red flowers.

We love our pōhutukawa. They’re on Christmas cards and tea towels and kitsch paintings of the beach.

Yet we cheat on them every Christmas. Instead of including the most Kiwi of all trees in our festivities, we betray them with a pine.

The pine is not even traditional Christmas – pinus radiata (Montery pine) originates from California and Mexico so I’m not sure how it became our common Christmas tree.

For some time for us pine is longer used, inside the house it causes allergic mayhem.

We could be hanging ornaments shaped liked tiny jandals and barbecue tongs on our pōhutukawa, but instead we decorate pine trees with reindeer and fake snow. Ever seen a reindeer? Me neither.

And so, the pōhutukawa gets me feeling patriotic every Christmas.

I start off wondering how long it’ll take us to be brave enough to swap the pine for it, and end up wondering how long it’ll take us to make much braver decisions about New Zealand’s future.

We can’t go on being part of the British realm forever. It’s increasingly ridiculous that New Zealand’s ultimate decision-maker lives on the other side of the world and has visited our country fewer than a dozen times.

The Queen was last in New Zealand fifteen years ago, in 2002. I think she intends never to come here again.

At some stage, we’ll have to make the call to become a Republic. We all know it’s coming. It’s just a question of when.

I think it is generally assumed that nothing will change while the current Queen survives, but once she is gone the chances of at least giving New Zealanders a choice of who they want to be their head of state will become more likely.


NZ History: Pohutukawa trees

The first known published reference to the pohutukawa as a Christmas tree came in 1857 when ‘flowers of the scarlet Pohutukawa, or “Christmas tree”’ formed part of table decorations at a feast put on by Ngāpuhi leader Eruera Patuone.

Other 19th-century references described the pohutukawa tree as the ‘Settlers Christmas tree’ and ‘Antipodean holly’.

In 1941 army chaplain Ted Forsman composed a pohutukawa carol in which he made reference to ‘your red tufts, our snow’. Forsman was serving in the Libyan Desert at the time.

 

 

30 Comments

  1. Oh go ********* Heather du Peas! How about we hear from real (authentic) people for a change

    • The journalist is no longer considered a legitimate voice. May as well have someone from North Korea? Hopefully that is an unintended consequence of *diversity* and the “separation of nation and state”. You cant have your cake and eat it?

      • George

         /  December 28, 2017

        fake media pushing a fake feel good culture

        • PartisanZ

           /  December 28, 2017

          You sound “realistically depressed” about it George?

          @du Plessis-Allan – “At some stage, we’ll have to make the call to become a Republic. We all know it’s coming. It’s just a question of when.”

          I beg to differ. IMHO it’s a question of how long can Righties and Righties-at-Heart stave it off? RaHs probably encompasses roughly half of Lefties?

          Just how close to 2040 can they let the question hang in the air before …

  2. PartisanZ

     /  December 28, 2017

    du Pleissis-Allan says, “It’s increasingly ridiculous … ”

    Well, no. It was increasingly ridiculous when I was a child 50-something years ago …

    Now it’s bizarre psycho-pathological, post-colonial denial and co-dependent lunacy!

    PS – Anyone who gets themself a journalist voice in the mainstream media is as legitimate a voice as any other. Methinks “voice” is largely divorced from “influence” nowadays, thankfully.

    What is a nation if not a State? It’s the separation of government from the economy we should be really worried about?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 28, 2017

      Yes, she is entitled to say what she likes, but the idea of pohutukawas as Christmas trees is a non-starter. Apart from anything else, they are not a great shape for decorating, unlike pines. These are also easily obtained as fakes, which many people have and which last for years. Some fakes look astonishingly real. The stuff that the big Hamilton one is made of looks real, it’s not shiny-and every year they find birds’ nests in it. I made a wreath from discarded cut-off bits, and it looks just like real pine branches.

  3. Strong For Life

     /  December 28, 2017

    The tree daisy, rautini (Brachglottis huntii), also known as the Chatham Islands Christmas Tree, is another option that could grow better in parts of the mainland than pohutakawa. Ruatini grows to 8m and is a spectacular tree with bright yellow flowers.

  4. Gezza

     /  December 28, 2017

    FFS! Just get a FAKE PLASTIC Christmas tree ! They go well with today’s FAKE PLASTIC FU*K$N CHRISTMASES !*

    SAVE THE FU*K$N TREES!

    *Hat tip to PZ for writing style.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 28, 2017

      John Wyclif was saying 700 years ago that Christmas had lost all its religious meaing and was celebrated with drinking, gluttony, singing disgusting songs instead of hymns and ‘alle manere of harlotrie’.

      If I wanted a tree and was allergic to real ones….I’d buy a good fake. they look realistic enough and I am sure that Ms H DPA could afford a really good one.

      She certainly knows how to make a lot of a little and read things into something that are not in there.

  5. phantom snowflake

     /  December 28, 2017

    A Pohutukawa that is grown from a cutting from a mature tree, unlike one that is grown from seed, will flower at a very young age. Thus it is possible to have in a pot or bucket a Pohutukawa which is the same size as a traditional christmas tree and which is in flower at or just before christmas.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 28, 2017

      It would be a wrong shape for a Christmas tree, and the decorations would harm the flowers.

      I have a little red fantail who’s not really glittery or sparkly but I can’t think of another word for this-it was from a cracker, but I have hung it on the fan as I like it so much & it will stay there. Other ‘gifts’ from the crackers included an NZ, a kiwi and, I think, a pohutukawa. They were all charming.

      • phantom snowflake

         /  December 28, 2017

        Obviously one cannot treat a Pohutukawa identically to a Pine, but I think you dismiss this idea too quickly. Advantages of using Pohutukawa include: Much less allergenic than Pine. Can be re-used. When larger can be recycled as a beautiful addition to one’s garden.

        • robertguyton

           /  December 28, 2017

          I “produced” two alternative Christmas trees this year; a gorse, grown in a pot, 2 years in the preparation, and a rimu, made from prunings from a tree I planted 20 years ago, bound together to make a handsome and sweet-smelling column of native wonderfulness. Pohutukawa sounds a little unimaginitive, if I may say so 🙂

          • phantom snowflake

             /  December 28, 2017

            As someone who has a very strong bias towards native plants, I am unaccountably in love with gorse. The gorse christmas tree sounds divine.

            • PartisanZ

               /  December 28, 2017

              You’ll have some Celtic heritage then phantom snowflake? Love of gorse is a sure sign of it …

              And Robert … Did you have two alternative Christmases to go with the trees?

          • Conspiratoor

             /  December 28, 2017

            Pics robert, or it didn’t happen

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 28, 2017

          Yes, but they are nothing like so easy to find, not everyone likes trees (I can’t understand why they don’t-or why they kill them needlessly) or they may live in a flat or apartment. Pines are the international Christmas tree, and I can’t see that changing.

          Think of the size that pohutukawas reach.

          Every year I am surprised by their gorgeous gold tips-one forgets how lovely these are.

          • PartisanZ

             /  December 28, 2017

            Pines are a central symbol of the international marketing of Christmas … from the Northern Hemisphere … along with Santa Claus, flying Reindeer with sleigh, chimneys, Mistletoe, North Pole toy factories and Sweatshop Elves …

            … Clearly an industrial revolution invention …

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 28, 2017

              The Industrial revolution was much more recent than the Christmas Tree which has been around for about 1000 years. Mistletoe has been around for many, many centuries, as have presents by the chimney. Saint Nicholas was a very early saint, but I forget when he lived.

            • PartisanZ

               /  December 28, 2017

              And WHERE did he live?

              Clearly not in Roman occupied Galilee and Judea, which is where the Middle-Eastern Jewish religious reformer was born and ministered …

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus

            • PartisanZ

               /  December 28, 2017

              The industrial revolution and subsequent economics of human labour exploitation brought all the elements together into a capitalist ‘marketing concept’ Miss Kitty …

              Early-Life consumer demand-creation …

          • phantom snowflake

             /  December 28, 2017

            Kitty, this is a bit naughty of me but I’m just going to have to point out a mistake you made. (Yes, even you!) The plural of pohutukawa is, in fact pohutukawa, for obvious reasons. You have made a nonsense word by mixing two languages. It doesn’t move me if the Scrabble Dictionary lists “pohutukawas” as a valid word; it ISN’T!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 29, 2017

              I have no idea what the Scrabble dictionary says-I don’t own one and never will. It would be unlikely to have a word with as many letters as pohutukawa as the odds against anyone being able to make it are enormous. Many Maori people put an s on Maori words. There are a lot of words that are two languages mixed together.Do you say forums ? Or television (derived from Greek and Latin) ? Or frankfurters ?

            • phantom snowflake

               /  December 29, 2017

              I didn’t expect you would take correction well!! (And I know you won’t be able to resist having the last word; so go on…)

            • Confirming the plural is pohutukawa. I’ve never used anything else

  6. Haha, I can imagine the outcry from professional objectors when we plant a few hectares of closely planted pohutakawa, then cut them all off at ground level to satisfy the whims of those protesting the pines. Their heads will explode, I suspect.

  7. NOEL

     /  December 28, 2017

    One New Zealand company I once worked for was taken over by an Aussie conglomerate.
    Issued every one with a pohutakawa to take home as a re branding exercise.
    Guys were planting them all over the site at strange places. When I ask one why he said you forget they are protected species in the new expanded Auckland City.
    Two slights in one go.