No fruiting

by | Feb 7, 2019 | Seasons Newsletter | 6 comments

This was my karaka tree last year, in a great abundance of fruiting. The ripe berries fed many native birds who visited the high branches, shaking the surplus to the ground, where it peppered the pathways with rich orange plumpness.


This year it’s a very different story. When I was last out at my bach, I looked at the pathway under the karaka tree, and realised something was wrong. There were no berries to be seen. Not one.

I looked up at the tree, and saw that it was completely devoid of fruit.



What happened?

A big storm crashed through the bush last year, bringing down mature kanuka trees and tearing limbs from the houhere, mahoe, karaka and others.



The karaka suffered. Many branches were severed and who knows what happened underground as it swayed and bent in the fierce winds. I think about the roots, and how torn or stressed they might have been from the effort of holding on.

And so the tree has, in its wisdom, shut down all productivity. It is having a no fruiting year.

Not forever, I hope. I will be watching next year, wishing for signs of a return to health after its season of recovery.



First Fruits highlights a polarity

The festival of First Fruits on February 2 falls halfway between summer solstice and autumn equinox. It’s a time of polarity between the abundance of the first grain harvest, traditionally celebrated in European cultures, and the food scarcity of Te Waru in Maori culture, where the kumara is still growing in the earth and is not yet ready for harvest.

(For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, there is also scarcity as the cold still bites. It is the time of First Light/Imbolc/Brigid, when the sun is returning, but only just beginning to be felt. You might like to read my blog post about First Light.)

You have heard me speak and write about this before, and in the days leading up to Waitangi Day, I was on a retreat with a diverse group of people to contemplate questions of disparity in this land.



Te Waru may take another form too

The karaka tree reminds me of the need for voluntary ‘Te Waru’ after stormy times, inner and outer, to renounce productivity and gather our inner resources for healing and recovery. Perhaps you have had such times. Perhaps you are in such a time now; if so, I wish you rest and acknowledge your need to refrain from fruiting.

In times of abundance, I need to remember those who are in scarcity, and to share from my bounty.

Blessings to you all,
whether you are fruiting or resting,



In abundance, give
In scarcity, conserve


This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.

For further reading about First Fruits/Te Waru, check out my books:

Dancing with the Seasons and

Celebrating the Southern SeasonsĀ 


  1. Denise Poyner

    Your message resonates deeply, Juliet.

    The resting period is very necessary when one has experienced a traumatic event. It is wearying to process the trauma, to try to understand it. I find after trauma, it takes a while to reconstruct things again in some semblance of normal life. Resting and sleeping, and only attending to immediate and vital needs are an important part of the process.

    Poor kereru though. It had one less tree to feast on. I do hope the tree fruits next season and you and it see again the bounty the tree can provide.

    • Juliet Batten

      Denise, that’s so true what you say about needing to reconstruct after trauma, and to attend just to immediate things. I”m noticing the absence of the kereru this year, so thank you.

  2. Hilary

    Hi Juliet – we all take time to recover from major challenges and your tree is doing the same – I’m sure next year it will reward you. I like the ‘in abundance give, in scarcity conserve’ – makes total sense.

    We are having amazing weather – it’s more like May apparently … not quite so much on the south coast .. but still we haven’t had real winter – which we need … but I’m happy at the moment –

    All the best – Hilary

    • Juliet Batten

      Yes I’m hoping to see abundance from the tree again next year. It looks as if you’ve got off lightly this winter, compared with other parts of North America. Thanks for dropping in, Hilary.

  3. Penny O'Neill

    I am wishing you a good morning from my end of the wide, wonderful world, Juliet.
    As I read this, a month after you wrote it, I realize that i have been in a mode of recovery, like your karaka tree, still mourning my sister’s passing, yet catching every ray of sunshine in this cold climate and looking, searching for all the joy. Today, it is barely 10 degrees (F) but, the sun is shining and I can feel the strength of its warmth increasing, and I can see the small shoots of early blooms emerging. Blessing to you this day.

    • Juliet Batten

      Dear Penny, it’s never too late for a comment and I am glad to hear from you. Mourning takes its time and I wish you well. I will think of you and my karaka tree slowly and gently recovering together through the seasons to come. The signs of spring in your world must be very encouraging.


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