Taketakerau: The Millennium Tree

World and New Zealand history woven in to the story of a 2000-year-old tree in Opotiki.

Silent night.

Deep in a lonely forest, the wind moans softly. Tall trees creak. Leaves rustle. Eerie clouds soar across the stars. Wide eyes blink from high in the gloom. They watch… and wait. Ghostly-green moths flutter, and a gecko darts. Kiwi shuffle among shadowy ferns.

The leaves of a small puriri tremble in the darkness – perhaps from the stirrings of a new dawn.

Mist rises above the bush, and drifts into a long white cloud…


KORO tells the story of a stately tree in an uninhabited paradise in the South Pacific Ocean: an isolated land of wild grandeur, pristine forests, sparkling streams – and birdlife. Polynesians arrive in this lonely place. The magnificent tree is discovered, bestowed with reverence (tapu), and used as a Burial Tree. People from the far side of the world also land on these shores. The rise in humanity brings inevitable consequences as all strive for their place in the future of New Zealand.

The tree named Taketakerau grows older. In spite of volcanoes, storms, and changes to the natural environment, Taketakerau survives while other trees succumb. The gnarled appearance of this ancient tree belies its aura, strength and fortitude. Now in the 21st century, Taketakerau still lives…

GRANDMA reads about historical empires and eras, icons, catastrophes, inventions and developments from all around the world.

A CHILD listens to the two narrations as they weave an interactive tale set along a 2000-year timeline.


Kelly Spencer

Kelly was born and bred basking in the sunshine of the east coast of New Zealand, but now endures the chill that is Wellington, on account of the nourishing and ever flourishing artistic community. She works as a freelance illustrative artist, moonlighting in graphic design.

Patricia Howitt

After years of painting and drawing the New Zealand high country while working full-time as a lawyer, Patricia Howitt now lives on 10 acres in the Far North, adjacent to virgin bush – one of the continuing inspirations for her work. She has 3 dogs, 4 cats, and chickens – all survivors. She freelances in art, illustration, and Internet design and graphics from her home.


The ancient tree Taketakerau is in the heart of the Hukutaia Domain.
The Hukutaia Domain, on Woodlands Road, is ten kilometres from Opotiki.
Opotiki is in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.


This beautifully crafted book tells New Zealand’s story from over 2000 years. It cleverly aligns our growth as a country within the context of the world’s history. It is a multi layered resource that can be used with children and adults. Patricia Howitt’s stunning illustrations work in harmony with the text to tell our unique story. The Frankton staff are excited about using this amazing taonga in their classroom programmes.
Comments from staff…”This is the book I’ve been waiting for!” “This book will be a constant in my classroom, I can see how to use it for teaching history, art, reading, writing, geography, Te Reo and Tikanga Maori – it has it all!”

Principal Judy Dixon, Frankton Primary, Hamilton


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