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Stoic in their silence, trees have long been used for memorial purposes. Seedlings were planted up and down the country in both public and private spaces after conflicts, standing in for people who went off to serve and never came home.

You may have read the names of the significant places that are inscribed on the Museum's sandstone walls, but did you know that some of the trees in Pukekawa Auckland Domain are also commemorations? In this blog, we look at some of the trees with memorial connections.

Aleppo pine
WORLD WAR I

Pinus halepensis

Aleppo pine

This Aleppo pine remembers the New Zealanders who served at Gallipoli. While the seed for this tree came from Motuihe Island and was cultivated by Auckland City Council nursery staff, the Aleppo pine is native to the eastern Mediterranean, where many service personnel were stationed during WWI.

Auckland Museum's Curator Botany Ewen Cameron notes that while the exact origin of the Motuihe Island trees is unconfirmed, they were possibly planted with seed from Gallipoli by WWI soldiers returning from the war who were quarantined on the island because of the 1918 influenza outbreak.

This Aleppo pine replaced an earlier radiata pine, which had been planted on Anzac Day 1956 by Lt Colonel Cyril Bassett VC. The earlier radiata pine succumbed to a fungus, and was replaced by the tree we see today.

You can read more about the Lone Pine tradition and which pines grew where in this article from the New Zealand Journal of Forestry.


© Auckland Museum CCBY 4.0
Tōtara for Te Wherowhero
MUSKET WARS

Podocarpus totara

Tōtara for Te Wherowhero

The tōtara tree on the central scoria cone Pukekaroro was planted in 1940 by Kīngitanga leader Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Hērangi (Princess Te Puea) to commemorate her great-grandfather, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, who lived in the Domain in the 1840s and 1850s. Ancestral carvings, made in Ngāruawāhia, were erected around the tree in 1942 and restored in 2017. 

Te Wherowhero is also said to have given a new meaning to the name of the volcanic cone Pukekawa. The name traditionally referred to the sourness of the soil but  Te Wherowhero interpreted it as ‘hill of bitter memories’, a reference to the many Māori who had died during the intertribal wars of the 1820s and 1830s.

Dr Lucy Mackintosh (Curator, History)


Supplied by Ewen Cameron
Nagasaki camphor
WORLD WAR II

Cinnamomum camphora

Nagasaki camphor

This camphor tree was raised from a cutting of a tree that burned to the ground during the 1945 attack on Nagasaki, but survived and bloomed again in later years. The camphor tree is revered in Japan as a symbol of hope and new beginnings.

It was planted by then-mayor Dick Hubbard on 9 August 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the bombing. The Nagasaki City Council donates a cutting from this original tree to institutions who host the Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb exhibition, as the Auckland War Memorial Museum did in 2005.


© Auckland Museum CCBY 4.0
Palestinian olive
PALESTINE

Olea europaea subsp. europaea

Palestinian olive

Planted in 1988 by the Palestine Human Rights Campaign to commemorate the Palestinians who have lost their lives in the fight for independence.


© Auckland Museum CCBY 4.0
Crete olive
WORLD WAR II

Olea europaea subsp. europaea

Crete olive

This olive tree was presented by the people of Galatos to the New Zealand Veterans of the Battle of Crete in 1941, in memory of the 'bond formed during and after the Battle of Crete.'


© Auckland Museum CCBY 4.0
Liquidamber
WORLD WAR II

Liquidambar styraciflua

Liquidamber

Planted on Anzac Day 1977, this tree was a gift to the people of Auckland from the 24th Infantry Battalion to pay tribute to their fallen comrades who made 'the ultimate sacrifice'.

You can learn more about the men who served with the 24th Infantry Battalion on Online Cenotaph here.


© Auckland Museum CCBY 4.0
Pōhutakawa for peace
NUCLEAR-FREE

Metrosideros excelsa

Pōhutakawa for peace

This pōhutakawa was planted on 11 November 2011, the year that Tāmaki made the Auckland Peace City Declaration. 

The plaque was unveiled several years later in 2017, to mark 30 years since the Nuclear-Free Zone was established. 


© Auckland Museum CCBY 4.0
Tōtara
WWII

Podocarpus totara

Tōtara

This commemorative tōtara was planted by the 18th Battalion & Armoured Regiment. 

You can learn more about the men who served with this regiment on Online Cenotaph here.


© Auckland Museum CCBY 4.0