A heartbroken girl visits a mystical Christmas tree on a New Zealand cliff with enchanted nearby caves when her mother dies.
Following the shadows, Amelia Brown and her father venture into a legendary cave during a visit to Cape Reinga in New Zealand with its famed Pohutukawa tree. Looking for the spirit of her recently deceased mother, Mr. Brown tells his daughter about the warrior Tawhaki who fights to avenge unjust deaths. Many people think that the caves have become a conduit between heaven and earth where Tawhaki travels while helping people on their journey to the afterworld.
Eight-year-old Amelia Brown watches shadows pass by the caves near the cliff of Cape Reinga in New Zealand with her father. He explains that she is probably seeing the spirit of the warrior Tawhaki who is known to visit the caves. Although she is sad that her mother has recently died, her father says that he is glad that he is able to spend the day with her. Amelia tears up, wiping her nose on his jacket sleeve. The wind blows hard against the Pohutukawa tree that clings to the cliff of Cape Reinga in New Zealand. Caves wrap around the cliff, where it is said that people visit before they passed into the spirit world to heaven.
As Amelia and her father walk near the cliff, her father tells her the legend of the warrior Tawhaki. As the story goes, the famous Pohutukawa tree emerged from the cliff of Cape Reinga in New Zealand on Christmas Eve. Its burning red flowers are said to symbolize the blood of a warrior who died attempting to avenge his father’s death. His name was Tawhaki. The warrior tried to get help in heaven on his mission, and then he fell to earth, causing the red flowers to bloom. He still roams the earth, trying to avenge his father’s death. He hates injustice and secretly tries to bring justice to those in need of it. He also helps people on their journeys from earth to heaven through the caves near the cliff.
When Amelia and her father descend deep into the caves, Amelia comes face to face with the spirit of her mother. She looks at her father, wondering if he can see her. Realizing that he cannot, she says nothing. Her father chides Amelia, saying they couldn’t find her mother in the caves. Meanwhile, the spirit of Amelia’s mother bends over and kisses her cheek. It burns like fire, and Amelia is sure it is real. Then, her mother does the same to Amelia’s father, but he doesn’t feel the fire on his cheek. Amelia’s mother slowly takes off her diamond wedding ring and slips it into Amelia’s hand. Her mother disappears into the cave. While leaving the caves, Amelia decides that telling her father that she just saw her mother’s spirit might not help him at all, but it helped her more than she could say. Her mother’s wedding ring bounces deep in her pocket, although it’s too big to fit on any of her fingers. The winds blow hard, and the Pohutukawa tree shakes as a shadow falls from its branches. The shadow follows the Browns back to their house. No one would ever know all the healing that Tawhaki brought to them already, but maybe it is best that way until more justice can be revealed as to the untimely death of Mrs. Brown.
Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters