Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves

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Commemorative and Memorial Trees of Tawa

Below are details of known Memorial or Commemorative trees planted in the Tawa area.   If you know of other memorial or commemorative trees planted in Tawa that are not mentioned here we would appreciate hearing about these.   Please advise corrections and additions to these listings to webmaster contact below.

11 September 2008

Community Civic Awards

Planting Tawa trees - Willowbank

Robin Thomson (Friends of Willowbank) and Richard Herbert (Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves) planting the tawa trees at Willowbank.
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Sparrow.

The winners of the six various categories at the recent Tawa Community Civic Awards were each given a framed certificate and a tawa tree sapling.   As the ‘trees’ were already more than 1.5 metres high, and will grow a whole lot taller in the years to come, three of the six winners decided it was not ideal to plant their trees on their own properties.

After consultation with the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves, three tawa trees were planted in an appropriate part of Willowbank Park on a recent Saturday morning, 23 August 2008.


Planting Tawa trees - Willowbank

Karen, Charles and Georgia have just planted the whenua (afterbirth) of Karen and Charles’ first grandchild, Maui Dante Salvatore Gifford Passarello under the native tree that Karen received with her Civic Award.
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Sparrow.

After the birth of a baby it is customary Maori practice to bury the whenua (afterbirth) in the land, most often in a place with ancestral connections.   This act has deep cultural significance.   Underpinning it is the belief that human beings were first made from earth, from the body of Papatuanuku (the earth mother).   Whilst Tawa is not a place of ancestral connection to the family, it is a place of spiritual connection - it is the birthplace of Mana Tiaki (a local Maori whanau network).   With his whenua buried under his grandmother’s tree in a public reserve, Maui can visit ‘his’ tree for years to come.   It is also buried on the banks of the river that runs through Willowbank, absorbing the water as its life force.

Tuatahi ko te wai, tuarua whnau mai te tamaiti, ka puta ko te whenua

When a child is born the water comes first, then the child, followed by the afterbirth (whenua)

Inu mai, inu mai, i ng wai kaukau o o tkpuna

Drink, drink of the bathing waters of your ancestors.

REF: CityLife Porirua - Tawa Comunity Centre Advertising Feature 11 September 2008, p12.   And TawaLink website article.

11 September 2008

New Park Apple Trees Have Been Created From the Old

Apple Tree planting - Willowbank

Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, and Nothern Ward Councillor, Ngaire Best, participating in the planting of the historic apple trees.

Seven heritage apple trees being planted at Tawa’s Willowbank Park this Saturday 13 September have been specially created and grown to gradually replace the park’s dying fruit trees that are thought to have been originally planted by early settlers.

Cuttings were taken from some of the trees a few years ago and the trees that have been developed from them are now at a stage where they can be planted. A planting ceremony will take place on Saturday at 10.00am near the park’s playground in Boscobel Lane.

Councillor Ngaire Best, who raised the subject of the deteriorating trees with Council parks staff a few years ago when she was Chair of the Tawa Community Board, says the second generation trees will preserve the history and character of Willowbank Park.

“It’s fantastic that this is happening – it is retaining and helping to raise awareness of an interesting aspect of Tawa’s history.”

The original trees were part of an orchard developed from the 1860s by William and Elizabeth Earp, who were one of the largest landowners in Tawa Flat. The couple came to Wellington in 1854, cleared bush and established a sheep farm. Their homestead, Boscobel, was built about 1860 on what is now the site of the Bucket Tree Lodge. The house is no longer standing but the now-famous bucket tree that William planted in front of the house is still there along with the remains of the orchard he established behind it.

The apple trees were grown from cuttings by the Council’s Berhampore Nursery with specialist assistance from a Nelson nursery. Council staff also plan to take cuttings from the other historic trees at the park, including a fig and walnut.

The Council’s Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says the Council is working to create second generation trees from the city’s significant heritage trees because old trees unfortunately don’t last forever.

“As well as the Tawa fruit trees, we are growing pine varieties from the originals planted in the Botanic Garden and seedlings from the heritage kowhai in Tory Street that was deliberately destroyed in 2005,” she says. “We have also taken cuttings from the historic oak tree up the Plimmer Steps and plan to do the same with the magnolia outside the Rita Angus cottage in Thorndon.”

Cr Wade-Brown says that as well as the historic aspect of Tawa fruit trees, she is interested in community gardens and orchards and keen to hear what others think of the idea of planting more food-producing plants on public land.

REF: Abolutely Positively Wellington newspaper - October 2008, p6.   And WCC press release.

24 August 2005

Guides commemorate Nan’s life

Planting Nan’s Memorial Tree

Jack Worgan helps plant the matai tree in Coronation Park in memory of his late wife.

Nan Worgan has gone, but will never be forgotten.

Involved with Girl Guides in Tawa since 1854, Mrs Worgan had a history of community service that made her one of the area’s most respected role models.

She helped build Guide halls in Johnsonville and Tawa and as well as a leader, served at district level too.   Mrs Worgan passed away earlier this year.

Her memory was sealed on August 24 with the renaming of the local guide hall in her honour and the planting of a matai tree in Coronation Park.   It was also a celebration of the Guides’ 50th birthday in Tawa.

“Nan influenced so many young ladies in Guides,” said Judith Havill, Tawa Guides’ district co-ordinator.

It’s lovely to see everyone here, it’s a special day for us all,” she said.

Matai was, fittingly, Nan’s nickname.

“The matai is a strong tall, spreading tree, just like Nan, “Ms Havill said.   “We hope it grows tall for the Guides to sit under.”

Mrs Woman’s family and regional Guides’ luminaries were out for the ceremonies, as stories were told of a lady who touched so many lives.


REF: Kapi-Mana News - NEWS, September, 2005.  

PS.   At a meeting of the Wellington City Council held on 20 February 2002 Mayor Kerry Prendergast presented Nan with an Absolutely Positive Wellington award for her services to the Wellington community and in particular for her work to Guides.

27 August 2004

Commemorative Trees a Thank You from Lord of the Rings Fans

Planting Nan’s Memorial Tree

Lord of the Rings fans Yvonne Gwyn (left) and Susan Lamont help plant a Kauri at the launch of the Council’s new Commemorative tree scheme at Willowbank Park in Tawa.   Picture Neil Price.

Two New Zealand projects are to benefit from an international fundraising project by fans of The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) films.

Fundraising Coordinator Stephanie Blevins, in the United States, says the fundraising was a way for LOTR fans on the website (TORN) to say thank you to Peter Jackson for creating such a successful film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book.   “The response has been incredible.   Fans from around the world have contributed to the fundraising, which shows you just how widely the films have touched people,” says Stephanie.

“We just wanted to thank Peter Jackson so much for making these films.   The fans are such wonderful and giving people and they saw this as a great opportunity to show their appreciation in a tangible way.”

Wellington City Council’s commemorative tree scheme was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the fundraising as a salute to Professor Tolkien, who was an avowed environmentalist.   As a Tolkien website, we’re aware of the Professor’s love of trees and his distress at the way urban development comes so often at the expense of many beautiful old trees.   So there’s no question he would have approved of a tree-planting effort in his honour.

Eleven kauri trees were planted in Willowbank Park in Tawa, at 2pm on Thursday, 2 September 2004.   The 11 trees comprise nine for the ‘Fellowship of the cast and crew’ of the films, and one each for Peter Jackson and Professor Tolkien (while also honouring the 11-Oscar sweep of The Return of the King).

The GiveLife foundation was chosen as the other fundraising beneficiary as Peter Jackson has publicly supported the issue of organ donation in New Zealand.

Council Manager of Botanic and Natural Areas Mike Oates says commemorative trees are a thoughtful and distinctive way to provide a living memorial and a great way to help ensure a greener future.   Mr Oates says the commemorative tree scheme is just one of the ways people can help plant our city’s future and help bring back native birds and bush.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast who was also there to help with the planting says she is delighted that Wellington City Council’s commemorative tree programme was chosen as a beneficiary of the LOTR international fundraising project.

“This is a very generous gesture and we thank the fans for it.   As this is the very first commemorative tree planting it is very special.   It is honouring one of Wellington’s most loved sons, Peter Jackson, while at the same time commemorating Professor Tolkien.   We, in Wellington, are very proud of our association with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.   I am sure this park will become another very popular LOTR site for tourists and residents to visit,” she says.

Since the release of the LOTR movies, fans have travelled to New Zealand to see for themselves the places where key scenes were filmed.   Both Stephanie and Erica expect the kauri trees in Willowbank Park to attract fans from TORN who wish to see what their fundraising efforts have achieved.

Ref WCC news release, and
LORL fans web site
Branch Out Vol 14: Spring 2004 issue.

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Last Updated 26th December 2009