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A slice of Kiwi in California

12 May 2005

A slice of Kiwi in California

This Sunday, 15 May, New Zealand’s diversity in both flora and music will be celebrated in California.

The Arboretum at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is hosting a New Zealand Day at which they will celebrate the 'Culture, Music, and Botanical Diversity of New Zealand'. Throughout the day and into the evening guests will be able to wander among New Zealand native trees, shrubs and grasses and hear recordings of New Zealand music and native bird songs from Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre.

A lecture on the diversity of NZ flora will be given by Tom Sauceda, New Zealand Garden Curator, and taonga püoro (Maori musical instruments) specialist Richard Nunns will present a seminar on the uses of NZ native plants for medicine, food and music.

Through composer and Arts Foundation Laureate Jack Body, an ensemble of Kiwi and American musicians will present a live concert entitled Encounters with Indigenous Aotearoa including a traditional karanga and waiata, and works by David Farquhar, Jack Body, Gillian Whitehead and Philip Brownlee. The latter two works will also involve Richard Nunns playing taonga püoro alongside the more traditional string quartet and flute.

Following samplings of New Zealand wines and a hangi guests will also be able to watch and listen to a ‘concert’ of New Zealand electroacoustic music and sound art / film including works by Ross Harris, Matthew Lambourn, John Cousins, David Downes and Douglas Lilburn.

The Arboretum was officially begun in 1964. Since then the collections have expanded to incorporate specific garden areas for the flora of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and, of course, California. The late Edward Landels, a benefactor with a strong interest in ecology, donated the funds which allowed the Aboretum to create the NZ Collection, inaugurated in 1984.

As noted in the Arboretum brochure: “Although New Zealand lies 6,400 miles away, nearly across the Pacific Ocean and in the Southern Hemisphere, it shares many climactic features with California. The plants of New Zealand owe much of their uniqueness to the fact that New Zealand was once not an island but a fragment of Gondwana.

Extensive speciation has occurred since that isolation began, and it is estimated that an overwhelming 85% of New Zealand's seed plant species are native only there. Many unusual and fantastic plants await the visitor, their odd forms revealing much about the forces that shaped their evolution.”

This weekend, Californians will be able to experience just how unique New Zealand is – physically, culturally and artistically.


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