It is a curious human habit to appropriate things and call them our own. Wellington has claimed black and yellow as "our" colours. Kowhai is the Maori word for yellow - and it is in glorious evidence right now with the spring flowering of kowhai trees around the city. The rest of the year our buses, sporting teams and so on keep the bright yellow on display. I snapped one of our buses climbing the Brooklyn Hill in central Wellington, echoing the kowhai flowers.
There are eight species of kowhai, belonging to the genus Sophora, endemic to New Zealand. Most are small trees, two are low growing or bushy, and some have a divaricating pattern of juvenile growth. Kowhai are a popular garden plant, easily grown - in nature they grow in a wide range of habitats including river terraces, lake margins, hill slopes, flood plains and dunes. One bushy species, Sophora molloyi, is found in a very restricted range on islands in the Cook Strait and on headlands along the south Wellington coast. The smaller growth habit is probably an adaptation to the difficult growing conditions in these locations.
Sophora molloyi is listed as "naturally uncommon" on the threatened plants list. We are being encouraged to plant locally sourced native plants in our gardens, and since I live and "garden" on Wellington's south coast, Sophora molloyi would be a perfect plant for me to grow. I think I might get it. But I can't really delude myself that this would have nothing to do with my human acquisitiveness!