Dotted along the Rarotonga coastline, in the archipelago of the Cook Islands, are thousands of coconut palms.
Of course that’s not unique. Coconut palms are a staple of all island nations and are widely known as the Tree of Life for their history of providing food, shelter and clothing, but the trees on Rarotonga are different. They don’t look different, they don’t smell different, they don’t grow differently to any other coconut palm. What makes them different is their origin.
Hundreds of the coconut palms lining the shore of Rarotonga were planted as saplings by visitors to this tropical paradise. Mostly they were planted by couples during a time of significance; usually a wedding day, but also anniversaries, honeymoons, birthdays or any other significant time in a family or person’s life. These coconut palms are truly trees of life symbolising love and commitment.
My Tree of Life is now twelve years old. It was planted on a glorious March afternoon on my fifth wedding anniversary by myself, my husband and my seven month old son.
I often imagine our Tree of Life standing proud on Rarotonga, overlooking all those that walk by as they enjoy the warmth of the tropical sun, take in the scent of frangipanis and gaze at the crystal clear turquoise waters.
I haven’t had the opportunity to go back, and I guess I wouldn’t know which tree was mine anyway, but I love the thought of my tree providing life to the people of Rarotonga. My tree has grounded me to this very special island and left a long-lasting legacy of my marriage and family.