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Pohutukawa [paw-hoo-too-cah-wah] is known as New Zealand's native Christmas tree because bright red blooms decorate the tree during the Christmas/summer season in December.
Pohutukawa can be found in coastal forest and along coastlines of warmer parts of the North Island of New Zealand. Pohutukawa thrive near the sea, easily withstanding strong wind, salt spray and drought.
The name pohutukawa is apparently derived from the Maori words “po-“ and “hutukawa”. “Po” has many meanings, but can refer to the night or underworld. “Hutukawa” is a head dress of red feathers which could be compared to the trees' crown of red blooms over summer. Pohutukawa is also said to mean "splashed by the spray" or “drenched with mist”; an apt name for a tree commonly found by the sea.
Kaikoura, a town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, is New Zealand's whale watching destination. The whales are visited by taking a boat tour on the ocean with Whale Watch®, a nature tourism company owned and operated by the indigenous Kati Kuri people of Kaikoura, a Maori sub-tribe of the South Island's larger Ngai Tahu Tribe. Sperm Whales can be seen here year-round, and seven other whale species visit regularly.
It was a whale that led the Maori ancestor Paikea to New Zealand many centuries ago. His descendants include the Kati Kuri people of Kaikoura.
According to legend, Paikea was the youngest and favourite son of the chief Uenuku from the island of Mangaia in the present day Cook Islands. This favouritism made Paikea's elder brothers extremely jealous. They conspired to kill Paikea while fishing offshore and tell Uenuku he drowned. But the night before the trip Paikea feigned sleep and overheard his brothers plotting. When far out to sea Paikea foiled their plan by deliberately sinking the canoe and drowning his brothers. Now adrift in a great ocean, Paikea clung to a canoe plank and awaited his own death. I t was then that Tohora the whale appeared and lifted Paikea onto his great back. Tohora took Paikea south to New Zealand and the settlement of Whangara just north of present day Gisborne. Here, Paikea began a new and prosperous life. Many years later one of Paikea's sons, Tahupotiki, travelled further south and became the founder of the great South Island tribe of Ngai Tahu. It is from Tahupotiki and Paikea that the Ngai Tahu and Kati Kuri of Kaikoura claim descent. (From www.whalewatch.co.nz - reproduced with permission from Whale Watch®.)
The unfolding frond of a New Zealand tree fern, or Ponga, incorporates the koru, which is often used in Māori art as a symbol of creation. Its circular shape conveys the idea of perpetual movement, and its inward coil suggests a return to the point of origin.
Ponga grow wild, and are found in most bush areas throughout New Zealand. The most famous of ferns, Cyathea dealbata also known as the ‘silver fern’, has become New Zealand’s national symbol and will be found as part of the livery of most New Zealand sports teams.
The Puka (Mertya sinclairii) is a native New Zealand tree with a tropical appearance and large shiny green leaves. The Puka is endemic to the Hen and Chickens Islands (which lie offshore from the city of Whangarei on the top of the north-east coast of New Zealand) and the Three Kings Islands (which lie off the extreme northern tip of New Zealand). All these islands are wildlife refuges.
Current estimates put New Zealand’s sheep population at around 60 million, while the human population numbers just 4 million.
For many years, agriculture was the mainstay of the New Zealand economy. The New Zealand economy is now far more diverse, but agricultural products such as dairy and meat still make a large contribution.
There are 24 different breeds of sheep in New Zealand. The most numerous are the Romney, which make up about half the population of sheep. However the Merino is possibly the best known breed, due in part to New Zealand’s most famous Merino sheep “Shrek”. Shrek managed to evade his owners for 6 years in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps mountain range. When he was discovered and shorn, his fleece weighed in at 27.5 kilograms. Merino wool is very fine, and is used to make lightweight woven and knitted clothing.
Mount Ngauruhoe is one of three mountains situated in Tongariro National Park in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand; Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro keep it company. It is a classic cone-shaped volcano, and is New Zealand’s most active volcano – it last erupted in 1975. Eruptions from this mountain were considered by the Maori to be a sign of war and, together with the other peaks of Tongariro National Park, is regarded as highly tapu (sacred) by Maori.
The name Ngauruhoe – the peak of Uruhoe – commemorates the slave whom Ngatoroirangi, archpriest of the Arawa canoe, sacrificed in order to add mana (spiritual authority) to his plea for fire to be sent from Hawaiki. When this arrived, Uruhoe’s body was flung into the crater that bears his name. (‘NGAURUHOE, MOUNT’, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.)
Mount Ngauruhoe played the part of Mount Doom in director Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy.
Pictured on the right is the main building in the New Zealand parliamentary complex – Parliament House. Designed by architects John Campbell and Claude Paton, the current Neo-classical Parliament House replaced an earlier wooden building that was destroyed by fire in 1907.
The focal point of Parliament House is the Debating Chamber of the House of Representatives where bills and other official matters are considered. Also contained within Parliament House is a 27 metre long Grand Hall.
To the left of Parliament House is the Executive Wing. Affectionately known as the Beehive because of its shape, this is where the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers have their offices.
The Beehive is 72 metres tall, with 10 floors above ground and four floors below. It was designed in 1964 by Sir Basil Spence, whose original concept was to have rooms and offices spreading out from a central hub.