Author: Jocelyn Woodward-Candy

New Zealand’s Christmas Tree

One of the joys of the festive season is seeing all the pōhutukawa trees flowering. The strong green and bold red really help gives the tree its nickname as the ‘New Zealand Christmas Tree’.

We often see stunning scenic shots of pōhutukawa on beaches but here in Palmy we love our pōhutukawa trees in Te Marae o Hine The Square. You can even catch a glimpse of these trees from the windows overlooking The Square on the First Floor of Central Library.

Did you know that the pōhutukawa, while a native plant of New Zealand, is actually not native to our region? Its natural habitat ranges from the North Cape to Tokomaru Bay on the east coast of the North Island, up and over o Urenui, north of New Plymouth on the west. It once formed an almost continuous band of forest along most of the northern coastline.

A map of the North Island showing the distribution of pōhutukawa. A thick red line extends from Gisboune to north of New Plymouth.
Pōhutukawa distribution, by @gallicist on Twitter.

The exact natural southern limit of pohutukawa’s original range is difficult to know because the trees have been so widely planted.

Pōhutukawa can live for hundreds of years in their natural coastal environment. While it is common to see 100-year-old trees growing in home gardens, both pōhutukawa and northern rātā (another tree known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree) can probably live up to 1000 years.

If you want to find some information on the pōhutukawa and other native trees, we have some great books in our catalogue. Search Native New Zealand Trees on the library website here. From John T Salmon’s Native trees of New Zealand to Robert Venell’s The Meaning of Trees and Andrew Crowe’s Which native tree? New Zealand native trees: a simple guide to their identification, ecology and uses, the library can help you discover more about our native taonga this summer – ideally under the shade of a blooming pōhutukawa tree.

Countdown to Christmas!

The best thing about Christmas (in my opinion) is all the great Christmas books and movies.

We are so lucky that we are spoilt for choice for Christmas themed titles in our library. Whether its with classics like Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol or Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or new ‘classics’ like Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson or The Little Yellow Digger Saves Christmas by Peter Gilderdale we have something for everyone.

Check out some of our titles like Christmas stories for children, Christmas love stories and romances, Cookbooks for Christmas kai to wow your friends and family, Christmassy movies and Christmas music. We also have an extensive collection of movies online that you can use as part of your library membership.

The great news is that using the library for Christmas cheer will help keep the coins in your pocket.

Outside of the Library, you can visit Santa’s Cave at Te Manawa. It’s a Palmy Christmas Tradition. You can book a free ticket to the Christmas Parade held at the Arena this year. The free tickets are available at Ticketek.

Yacht Rock?

I love reading and learning new things from the books. Usually I learn about new places or moments in history but this weekend I read Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey and I discovered ‘Yacht Rock’. There were many references to this new concept throughout the book so of course I had to do a Google search on it. According to this book Yacht Rock is used to describe songs that have a sailing/water theme.

Curiosity got the better of me so I downloaded a playlist on Spotify. There are some really great songs there but I struggled to find a sailing theme in them. Like Steal Away by Robbie Durpree, What a Fool Believes by the Doobie Brothers, and Arthur’s Theme by Christopher Cross – where is the sailing theme? There isn’t even one word mentioned about sailing, or yachts. So, I looked up Wikipedia, as we all know how accurate that is, and found their definition fit more with what I had concluded myself, that Yacht Rock is just a collection of soft rock music from the mid 70s to mid 80s.

The book wasn’t bad either. It was a a light, humorous read, and if you are into Yacht Rock there is a lot of great song recommendations through it.

The long tailed bat

So, a mammal won the Bird of the Year competition Bird of the Year 2021 | Bird of the Year . Interesting choice. The pekapeka long tailed bat won over other New Zealand birds including kōkako and hoiho yellow-eyed penguin.

The pekapeka long tailed bat can be found all over New Zealand but the threat for survival is at the highest level: nationally critical. Bats aren’t the first thing a lot of people think of when they think of threatened species in New Zealand, so although it might be an ‘interesting’ choice to be named ‘Bird of the Year’, it is good to get the spotlight on these cute little bats.

Here are some facts on this bat from the Department of Conservation website:


The long-tailed bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus) belongs to a more widespread family and is closely related to five other species of wattled or lobe-lipped bats in Australia and elsewhere.

The North Island and South Island long-tailed bat was confirmed in 2018 as one species.  It has the highest threat ranking of ‘nationally critical’.

Long-tailed bats are widely distributed throughout the mainland, Stewart Island, Little Barrier and Great Barrier islands and Kapiti Island. They are more commonly seen than short-tailed bats as they fly at dusk along forest edges. 

  • Long-tailed bats are smaller than the short-tailed bat, chestnut brown in colour, have small ears and weigh 8-11 grams.
  • They are believed to produce only one offspring each year.
  • The bat’s echo-location calls include a relatively low frequency component which can be heard by some people.
  • It can fly at 60 kilometres per hour and has a very large home range (100 km2).
  • An aerial insectivore, it feeds on small moths, midges, mosquitoes and beetles.


Causes of decline are combinations of:

  • Clearance and logging of lowland forests
  • Cutting of old-age trees for fire wood
  • Predation by introduced animals such as cats, possums, rats, and stoats
  • Exclusion of bats from roosts by introduced mammals, birds, wasps, and human interference.

The Great Kiwi Bake Off

The Great Kiwi Bake Off is happening again on TV, but why don’t you have a go at home? We have tons of great food books and magazines to help you out, or go online and have a look for some inspiration. PressReader has a great collection of magazines you can access from home for free too.

Last week was a Kiwiana themed bake off, I wonder what theme they are doing this week?

Digital help sessions

We are reintroducing digital help sessions, but with some differences.

You can book in a session by going here to have some help in the Central Library or you can email or phone us if you need help.

Contact us at, phone us on 351 4100 or message us on Facebook @PalmerstonNorthCityLibrary.

We can try and help you that way or maybe we can try and arrange a Zoom meeting with you to try and help solve your digital questions.

Bird of the Year

This year you can vote for Bird of the Year from 18th-31st of October. Who would you choose – would it be a kiwi, kākāpō, kea or the surprise entry of the long-tailed bat pekapeka-tou-roa?

If you have trouble deciding on who you will vote for, have a look at the many great bird books and magazines we have in our library and online.

You can vote here Bird of the Year 2021 | Bird of the Year

October School holidays

Due to COVID Alert Level 2 we have had to do things a little differently for these school holidays. But that doesn’t mean we are not providing the same level of fun and entertainment! At the Central Library, we have some Grab and Go activity packs, which include a range of different crafts and a special cool writing activity.

The Community Libraries are also providing some fun these holidays, with most libraries doing Grab and Go crafts or activity packs. Awapuni Library is also offering the writing activity. Ashhurst Library is bringing back an old favourite with Ashhurst Adventures, where you follow a map taking you on a tour of Ashhurst to hunt special lettered tiles.

Lastly, every location is doing a little mystery activity of Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar. Each day of the first week of the holidays we are putting up clues to who stole our cookies. These clues are also published on our Palmerston North City Library Facebook page.


Have you noticed the beautiful quilt on the wall on the Mezzanine floor? This quilt is made by Pam Eastcott who has made every quilt we have had in our library in the last few years – they have all been very impressive!

These quilts take an interesting journey to get in our library. They are dropped off at the Roslyn Library and then placed carefully in a book bin. They are then brought into the Central Library via our library courier where staff member Robyn arranges to get them hung up on display – I guess you can say it’s a real team effort!

This quilt is made up of lots of vibrant Kaffe Fassett prints Pam has collected or been given over the years.

Many people have admired this quilt while we have had it this month, as with all her other quilts. Thanks Pam, you do a fabulous job and we all look forward to seeing what we get next!