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Pohuts bloom – will it mean a hot summer?

Dec 18th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

ODD ONE OUT: A sole pohutukawa tree in full bloom at Hataitai School.

POHUTUKAWA have been blooming early in Wellington – but opinions differ about whether that heralds a long, hot summer.

 The saying that we’re in for a great summer if pohutukawa trees flower prior to Christmas is just an old tale, says Wellington City Council arborist James Jones.

 “The earlier blooms are linked to the previous hot summer and wet winter,” he says.

But Darren King, climate research scientist with National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, says Maori knowledge of the climate indicates there is truth to the adage.

In a 2004 NIWA newsletter, he wrote about how Maori marked months and seasons by local sequences of events, such as the blooming of certain trees and flowers.

Northland iwi Ngatiwai believe the pohutukawa blooming early with bright flowers is an indicator of a long summer and drought.

Other indicators such as where on the tree the blossoms are or where they begin can also determine what weather lies ahead.

Rotorua’s Te Arawa believe if the tree flowers only on the upper branches or the blossoming begins there and only goes partially downwards, a “tau-huka” or cold and winter-like season, will follow.

They also believe if the pohutukawa starts to flower at the bottom and goes upwards in the ordinary manner, a “tau-mahana” or warm and pleasant season lies ahead.

NIWA climate scientist James Renwick predicts Wellingtonians can expect warmer temperatures this summer, but when it came to linking the forecast to pohutukawa, he referred NewsWire to Darren King.

Last year New Zealand had the warmest summer for 10 years, with slightly above average temperatures in winter.

Photographers out looking for early flowering pohutukawa this week would have found them at Plimmerton, Hataitai School, Mt Victoria (on the way up to the lookout) and around Chaffer’s Dock and Waitangi Park (the latter exciting at least one Dominion Post letter writer this week).

 

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