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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 5 (August 1, 1934)

Our National Flower

Our National Flower.

A Vote recently taken by the Wellington Horticultural Society, at its annual meeting, on the question of New Zealand's choice of a national flower resulted in the kowhai heading the list. The native flowers next in order were the pohutukawa, manuka, clematis and rata. This order of favouritism, I think, fairly represents the general opinion on the subject. There are strong arguments in the golden kowhai's favour. It possesses a distinctiveness of form and a vividness of colour superior to all the others, qualities that make it eminently suitable for pictorial use. Although it is in bloom for only a short period of the year (that is, the yellow kowhai: the red variety, the kowhai-ngutu-kaka flowers for several months), it is a familiar feature of the landscape in most parts of New Zealand, and it is not a frail and delicate bush-fairy like the clematis. It adorns alike the banks of the Wanganui River and the shores of Lake Taupo and Lake Wakatipu, and it is far hardier than it looks. It is the graceful drooping habit of its flowers as much as their heartening gaiety of colour that sets the yellow kowhai as a decorative emblem high above all other members of our flora.

It is time we adopted a national flower, not alone for the artistic appeal which such a thing of beauty gives, but for its definite value as a patriotic emblem and a kind of totem or badge distinctive of New Zealand products. The fern-frond and the kiwi are already well known in the outside world as exclusively New Zealand emblems. The flax-bush has long been the distinguishing badge of our Survey Department. It typifies the open lands. the work of the pioneer and pathfinder. The kowhai stands for beauty, goddess of the bush. The pendant bunches of bloom, with a tui or a bellbird balancing itself on the sprays as it sucks the nectar make the loveliest spring-time sight our forests and our parks can give us, in the too-brief season of bush flowers.