As I made the Mānuka Dreaming series of works, digitally weaving imagery from a number of mānuka trees in various local sites I encountered on daily walks, I was thinking about care for the environment, celebrating small acts, and optimism.
Since relocating from Scotland to Aotearoa decades ago, mānuka is a plant that somehow has always held significance for me. I’ve admired its resilience as a scrub-type plant in coastal areas, it being one of first plants to regenerate on cleared land. Mānuka can be an important tool to reestablish bare, eroded slopes, creating shade and shelter for other, slower growing native plants.
I’m also drawn to mānuka because the flowers simply bring me joy – brightening up Winter and signalling Spring. Well known and utilised by Māori for health and healing properties, with sweet smelling flowers that provide an important source of pollen and nectar for native bees, moths, beetles and geckos, these plants, although not showy ‘bloomers’ at all, hold rich and restorative qualities.