The pohutukawa tree is a New Zealand Christmas icon since it flowers during November and December. Christmas never seems right to me unless I see the pretty scarlet flowers. The pohutukawa grows in coastal areas and is part of the myrtle family.
The Maori people consider the pohutukawa sacred since the spirits of the dead leave Te Reinga (the top of the North Island) via the trees. According to legend, the mythical hero Tawhaki fell from the sky and his blood turned the flowers of the pohutukawa tree red.