Philip Simpson | 340 pages | Hard cover | 2017
The `mighty tōtara’ is one of our most extraordinary trees. Among the biggest and oldest trees in the New Zealand forest, the heart of Maori carving and culture, trailing no. 8 wire as fence posts on settler farms, clambered up in the Pureora protests of the 1980s: the story of New Zealand can be told through tōtara. Simpson tells that story like nobody else could. In words and pictures, through waka and leaves, farmers and carvers, he takes us deep inside the trees: their botany and evolution, their role in Maori life and lore, their uses by Pakeha, and their current status in our environment and culture. By doing so, Simpson illuminates the natural world and the story of Maori and Pakeha in this country. Our largest trees, the kauri Tane Mahuta and the totara Pouakani, are both thought to be around 1000 years old. They were here before we humans were and their relatives will probably be here when we are gone. Tōtara has been central to life in this country for thousands of years. This book tells a great tree’s story, and that is our story too.