Niwaki Pōhutukawa creates unique display

Steve Oliver has been styling the niwaki trees for more than four years in the Excelsa Centre parking area.

While shoppers have been parking at Excelsa Centre in Golden Sands, Pāpāmoa, they may have come across the work of Steve Oliver.

Some have been admiring the outcome of his efforts, while others may not have noticed what was on display.

Although he may not look like the type to do manicures, Steve has been styling the Pōhutukawa trees in the niwaki style for four years, and they are proudly lined up- along the carpark of the shopping centre.

Niwaki is a Japanese horticulture art form.

It has very similar characteristics to the bonsai style, although bonsai trees are usually found in a pot, while niwaki trees are found in soil.

The result of Steve’s work creates not only a beautiful display, but a unique one, as the native New Zealand trees are not typically shaped in the Japanese style.

Steve, who works as a landscaper and tree specialist at Bluehaven Group, has been crafting this presentation out of his love for the look.

“I love the appearance of niwaki trees. The style is naturalistic and deliberately asymmetrical, yet still balanced,” says Steve.

“There’s beauty in the asymmetry. When they are finished, they look like a much larger tree than they really are.”

Although he had been studying bonsai trees for 10 years, Steve says he was inspired by the niwaki style while travelling in Japan.

“After going to a Japanese island named Okinawa in 2016, I saw they had niwaki style trees on display in the streets and in their gardens. I loved the look of them and thought I should try it.”

“When I returned home I taught myself how to niwaki the trees utilising the skills I had learned from studying bonsai over the years.”

Steve says that the niwaki trees take some time to maintain.

“I have to maintain them about three to four times a year.

“It takes about one hour to one-hour-and-a-half each time. Every 18 months or so I have to give them a big trim so they maintain their shape.”

Steve’s work has been admired by shoppers with a keen eye who park their cars at Excelsa Centre.

“He trims every little branch and every little leaf,” says Excelsa shopper Deborah Brunsdon.

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