The Pohutukawa Tree

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My favourite tree is the pohutukawa, the most beautiful flowering tree in the world.

When I was Chief Manager Marketing for Westpac New Zealand (1992 – 1995) I undertook the task of significantly enhancing the bank’s image through an association with a programme to save the tree which is an endangered species in New Zealand. The colour of the flower is the same colour as the corporate red of the bank.

The colours and theme of the tree were used as the basis of a complete refurbishment of the branches and a new wardrobe for staff. Major fund raising activities raised six figure sums for the preservation of the tree and a huge publicity campaign drew the community’s attention to the plight of the tree. Elements of the campaign included a phone card that won an international design award, a television documentary which also won an international award, T-shirts, posters, newsletters, tree planting activities and branch decorations. A sales promotion linking sales of Visa cards with planting trees raised both awareness and funds for trees.

I’m proud of the wonderful response to a compelling issue that fully engaged the bank’s staff and customers.

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Sharyn Cederman with the Governor General of New Zealand, Dame Catherine Tizard, about to plant a ceremonial tree.

The non-profit group whose report aroused my interest and attention and whose activities were strongly supported for several years is called Project Crimson. For further information about their current activities go to their site:

In December 1998 my son Timothy and I undertook a driving tour around New Zealand and included visits to the site of some particularly significant trees including the tree which the original Maori canoes tied up to when they landed in New Zealand hundreds of years ago.

We also visited my favourite example of the tree, located in the Rose Gardens in Parnell, Auckland. This is believed to be the first tree planted by Europeans and is an outstanding example of the species.

The tree is believed to have healing properties and I will be using its essential oils as part of my aromatherapy while undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

Pohutukawa honey is the purest honey in the world, scoring 19/20 on the honey scale (I’m not sure what it is measuring. Email me if you know more about this.) It comes from beehives placed on Rangitoto Island in Auckland Harbour each summer. When I visit New Zealand I always bring some of this honey back with me to Australia.

The tree flowers in the summer, about Christmas time and grows on the coast. It is very salt tolerant and I have seen examples of it growing with its roots actually in salt water and with shellfish growing on its roots. For many New Zealanders it is associated with family holidays at the beach as it is a beautiful shade tree with broad spreading branches covered with beautiful red flowers.


All content 1999-2005 Sharyn Cederman
Designed by Tim Cederman-Haysom. To contact me email me at tim at cederman com