Tōtara: a Natural and Cultural History

Tōtara: a Natural and Cultural History by Philip Simpson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Once you get past the High School Science Class tone of the early chapters this book, about one of New Zealand’s most iconic trees, is both fascinating and readable.

My little town has both a suburb and a vineyard named after this mighty tree.

In spite of the tōtara’s iconic status, both Māori and Pakeha have done large scale clearances of this wonderful tree. Simpson laments this, especially in the case of farmland, where tōtara is actually a wonderful livestock shelter.

I gained a lot of knowledge from this book. My favourite was learning about the waka tōtara

Where Maori shaped a living tree into a waka. (canoe) Talk about planning ahead!

This book is lavishly illustrated and well worth the time spent perusing it.

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