An exploration of the Dead Tree theme in New Zealand newspapers


In today’s post we will be exploring snatches of prose inspired by encounters with Burnt Trees collected from New Zealands News Papers.
Influenced by the seminal Frozen Flame & Slain Tree: The Dead Tree Theme in New Zealand Art of the Thirties and Forties  by MICHAEL DUNN, a wide ranging meditation which touches on the ideas of zeitgeist, modernism, regionalism and most pertinent to this blog the poetic assertions of Alan Mulgan, who in his poem Dead Timber , casts the burnt trees as the New Zealand’s equivalent of the Spiritual Architecture of the Countries of the Old World.

Our First Entry and one of the starker ones comes from the year of our nations founding.


New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, Volume I, Issue 23, 12 September 1840, Page 3

trees 1——-10–1-byDA–


Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume VII, Issue 685, 6 February 1883, Page 2

trees 2——-10–21-byDA—2burnt+trees–

Photographic Studio.

Taranaki Herald, Volume XLIX, Issue 11758, 4 September 1901, Page 2

trees 3——-10–51-byDA—2burnt+trees–


Auckland Star, Volume LX, Issue 110, 11 May 1929, Page 4

trees 4——-10–91-byDA—2burnt+trees–

And from the Early 30’s two nice cyclical tales that if not impressed by the haunting quality of burnt trees at least call upon the idea of their regeneration.


Auckland Star, Volume LXIV, Issue 99, 29 April 1933, Page 1

trees 6 trees 7
trees 8
trees 9
trees 10 trees 11——-10–91-byDA—2burnt+trees–


Auckland Star, Volume LXVI, Issue 10, 12 January 1935, Page 2

trees 12 trees 13——-10–91-byDA—2burnt+trees–

As a bonus (and an important correspondence between two touchstone elements of Poetic Theology in New Zealand history, the Burnt Tree and the Mast Pole) we have this tentative comparison from 1912


Wanganui Chronicle , Issue 12856, 24 September 1912, Page 2

trees 14——-10–71-byDA—2burnt+trees–

With thanks to the National Library of New Zealand.

This entry was posted in Nature Worship and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to An exploration of the Dead Tree theme in New Zealand newspapers

  1. nibor says:

    enjoyed this one. The thought that nature can triumph and replenish is nice but sadly the great trees of NZ dont regrow in a year or a decade

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