Montreal Perec is an accomplished cartographer with unusual powers of perception. He lives as a recluse in the town of Te Kauhanga, sheltered deep in the central North Island of New Zealand. Thirty years ago, he travelled from overseas and settled into his lighthouse look-off, led by his unfruitful search for the treasure of his ancestors. An online encounter with a mysterious mapping hobbyist launches Perec down a new trail of mind-bending clues.
Sharon Pellerine works for the local council in Te Kauhanga. An attractive woman, she is desired by various rural and municipal courters. But her skills and demeanour as an archivist from Wellington conceal a painful past and a shady secret that she attempts to address with the help of a peculiar visiting transient.
Another immigrant to this small town, Stanley Kowalczyk, hails from the northern city of Hamilton. Five years ago, he arrived with his own unique set of skills as an insurance adjuster and an even more specialised obsession with straight lines. His weakness for beautiful women opens him to the possibilities of wandering outside his self-imposed parameters.
These characters’ lives revolve around the apparently perishing tree of Taumata-an enormous tree, one of the legendary legs of Tane Mahuta and a taonga to local iwi Māori. As debate rages in the township about the tree’s future, Perec is led closer to his treasure by the activities of his fellow citizens.