Now Aussies are claiming the pōhutukawa

What's Fresh 23/06/2017

From time to time the Aussies try to claim New Zealand's icons as their own, this time taking aim at one literally rooted in our soil.

A new study from the University of Adelaide claims the pōhutukawa tree has a "likely Australian origin".

The University's new fossil research suggests "a diversity" of the Kiwi Christmas tree originated in Tasmania, with a more recent species of the tree blowing across the ditch.

"This new research, which identifies two new fossil species of metrosideros from Tasmania from about 25 million years ago, shows that a diversity of the trees once grew in Australia."

"[The older] species may not have been as well adapted for long-distance dispersal as those other species, and so it is likely that they originated here"

But, the study goes on to admit the pōhutukawa itself was not found in Australia.

It's not the first time Australians have tried to take our bragging rights. Here are some other bold claims they've made:


Perhaps the most well-debated Kiwi favourite is the Pavlova, which still hasn't been settled.

In 2010, New Zealanders claimed a win with the online edition of the Oxford English Dictionary declaring it a New Zealand dessert, citing a recipe from 1927.

But pavlova historian Helen Leach says that was actually a four-coloured jelly dessert that no-one really wants bragging rights to, and she points out the Aussies actually published the recipe a year earlier.

Ms Leach insists, however, that New Zealand had it where it counts, with the first "proper pavlova" appearing here first.

Mānuka honey

Last year New Zealand beekeepers had to go to lengths to stop their product becoming the next big debate.

Several beekeepers applied a trademark to their honey after Trevor Weatherhead from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council claimed 'Mānuka' was an aboriginal word.

"If you go back through history, if you go back thousands of years, it actually came from Australia and went to New Zealand - so that's the origin if you look at it," he says.

John Rawcliffe from the Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association was one of several Kiwi beekeepers to take a stand.

"They used to call it either tea tree or jelly bush but they started using [Mānuka] after it became famous from New Zealand," he said.

Pineapple Lumps

Australia's Sunrise TV once tried to pass off the humble Pineapple Lumps as their own.

The programme offered the lollies to boy band One Direction among a sample of Australian delicacies, including Vegemite and Tim Tams.

The Sunrise hosts described Pineapple Lumps as "an Aussie delicacy - in Queensland".

But, they were actually created by Oamaru confectionery factory worker Charles Diver in the early 1950s.

Band member Zayn Malik appeared less than thrilled with the confectionery, saying "it's reasonable, it's okay".