Amidst some scrubby bush by the river there was a small clearing, lit by a narrow beam of sunlight. I was captivated by the spotlight effect. It brought into stark contrast the fresh greens of a small whau (sounds like "foe") tree against a background of dark shade. The leaves of whau are large and soft, the seedheads a dramatic spiky cluster - brown when mature. The tree has an almost tropical lushness.
Whau (Entelia arborescens) is a New Zealand small tree which we don't see much in Wellington because it is unhappy in even moderate wind, and it prefers warmth and enough moisture - with our strong winds none of those preferences are reliably met! The seeds are long-lived and profuse, ready to pop up in places where there is a new clearing, but it tends to be a transient with other plants eventually shading it and taking over. The wood is very light - like balsa wood. The whau tree can be very pretty with its clusters of creamy flowers and fresh lively green leaves, then a bit daunting with its clusters of spiky seedheads.