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Pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), also known as New Zealand Christmas tree, is a stunning multi-trunk native tree that decorates New Zealand coastlines with its brilliant red flowers in time for Christmas.


Metrosideros comes from the Greek language and means iron or iron wood, which is reflective of the hardiness of Pōhutukawa's wood. Excelsa comes from Latin and means 'raised' or 'exalted'.

"Renowned for its vibrant colour and its ability to survive even perched on rocky, precarious cliffs, it has found an important place in New Zealand culture for its strength and beauty and is regarded as a chiefly tree (rākau rangatira) by Māori." - www.wikipedia.org 


Pōhutukawa in Māori Legends  

In Māori language, Pōhutukawa is said to mean 'splashed by the spray' and this is no surprise because this beautiful tree with its brilliant shining red flowers loves growing close to the shoreline. 

According to Māori tradition when people died they 'slid down the Pōhutukawa root', which refers to them leaving this world and traveling to the world of the ancestors. 

"Tradition says that when those in the Taiunui canoe first sighted the Pōhutukawa-clad shoreline of Aotearoa, the voyagers called to their chief to throw overboard the 'kura' (possibly sacred red feathers) that they carried on board, as they could see a mass of colour on the cliffs on the shore, which they mistook for birds with red feathers. The feathers were therefore thrown overboard, but when the chief landed and climbed the cliffs he found only Pōhutukawa blossoms, which when picked, soon dropped in the sun. He, therefore, went in search of his lost feathers and found them in the possession of a man called Māhina, who would not give them up. From this happening arose the saying 'the cast-away plumes of Māhina'." - Murdoch Riley, Māori Healing and Herbal New Zealand Ethnobotanical Sourcebook


Traditional Usage of Pōhutukawa

The Māori used the juice of the inner bark and the flowers of Pōhutukawa for medicinal purposes. The bark was also used to stop the bleeding of wounds. The aromatic Pōhutukawa flowers were rubbed on the face and body as perfume. 

Pōhutukawa has very dense, strong, dark red wood, which helps the tree withstand wind damage and drought. Because Pōhutukawa's wood is so hardy and durable it was used for beaters and other small, heavy items as well as in shipbuilding. Its bent roots and branches were perfectly suited to make knees – strengthening structures in boat hulls.

Pōhutukawa is a very slow- growing tree that can live for over 1000 years. It can reach 25 meters high and spread to over 25 metres. 

"Pōhutukawa timber was greatly favoured by early European boat builders. Its natural bends were ideal for boat construction and the timber was immune to seaworms when exposed to salt water." - www.doc.govt.nz


The Gift to Humanity 

This time of the year has always been the most powerful time for me. Throughout my life, Christmas Day has always been a time when the 'presence' of Spirit' has been particularly strong and manifested in the most amazing 'presents'. One of those precious gifts was on Christmas Day 1979 when the name First Light® was given to me by Spirit for the New Zealand native flower remedies I was to make. 

This range was to begin with the flower essence No 1 Pohutukawa, which was to be made on Christmas morning. The gift of this flower essence was to support true individuality and initiative. To assist individuals to have a strong sense of identity and a true sense of self so that they could fulfill their own unique destiny and work as part of a cooperative whole. To respond powerfully and proactively at a personality level to the call of the 'divine child' within each and every person. It is to this divine child in each and every one of us that this message goes out to today. 

It is my experience that this lifetime is a journey of light. It is the most amazing journey of re-discovery and transformation. The transformation of darkness into light. A healing journey. An opportunity for growth, to embrace the alchemical process of rebirth and an invitation to be all that we can be. 

May the First Light® essences that are my life's work and gift to the world bring light into your life and nourish the divine child in you. They are the most amazing 'present' I could ever give. 

AIO - Peace. 

"I bring you the gift of initiative – an inner vibrancy that permeates the being. Through me you experience the spark of life, the heartbeat and pulse of the land." - Pohutukawa Deva's Blessing


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 Plant images via First Light Flower Essences of New Zealand®


Creative Kidz Support©

Inner Spark

A productive plant infusion blend to support natural creative impulse and inspiration in children. Promotes a healthy sense of self and own individuality. Assists in creatively expressing own uniqueness. Ideal for highly creative children, those who experience creativity shyness or those who are bored and show a lack of interest. 

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About the Author

Franchelle Ofsoské-Wyber is award-winning researcher in the field of plant medicine and holistic healing and founder of First Light Natural Health®. Over the 40 years of working with clients and developing tools for personal transformation, Franchelle’s work has changed the lives of thousands of people around the world.