Tasting the tōtara

by | Nov 6, 2020 | Seasons Newsletter | 0 comments



When walking in the park yesterday and saying hello to a tōtara tree that I like to visit, I checked to see if any of the spent flowers were now turning into berries.


To my surprise, I discovered one bright berry hidden amongst the leaves. I’ve been wanting to find (and taste) tōtara berries ever since I received an account of how a contributor to my new book celebrated First Fruits in Taitokerau/Northland with her tamariki (1, 8, and 10).


I couldn’t bring myself to pick this solitary berry, but I will keep visiting the tree and watching for an abundant crop.


Meanwhile, here is a small excerpt from Sun, Moon, and Stars: a description of one person’s whānau enjoying their tōtara trees:


We went and walked the top of our puke [hill] — Mataparua — with a manuhiri [guest] and picked tōtara berries from a special grove, eating them fresh from the tree. We then leant up against the trees and watched and listened to the tūī and enjoyed the gentle breeze of Tāwhiri-mātea [god of the wind] washing over and cleansing us. We tried to mimic some of the tūī calls, by whistling and calling out, and we looked in the hope that we may see a kukupā [native pigeon] also come and settle in the tree. We smelt the fresh pines of the tōtara on our hands after picking berries, and enjoyed rubbing up against the bark of the tree with our heads.

. . . Tōtara is also a very special tree to us of Ngāti Hine. It grows really well on our kāinga and doesn’t seem to get attacked by the possums like the pūriri does! We talked about all of this with the kids as they observed the differences in trees and they really loved smelling the prickles on their candy tree!


Seasons blessings to you all,



PS If you would like to read more about seasonal celebrations with children and families, tamariki and whānau, Sun, Moon, and Stars is now posted on this website. Copies are expected in about 8 day’s time.

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