This page is not a current Christchurch City Council document. Please read our disclaimer.
Our Environment: Issue 15 Winter 1998

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Trees An Important Part Of Our History

Of the 17 trees featuring on the City Plan's list of heritage trees, seven grow in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

One of the trees, known as the Albert Edward Oak, was the first tree planted in the gardens. It was also one of four acorns sent to New Zealand by Queen Victoria to be planted as memorial trees to commemorate the death of her husband Albert.

The acorns were from the King's oak in Boscabel Wood, near Wolverhampton, where King Charles II hid from the Roundheads during the English Civil War.

They were propagated after being sent to the Reverend Richard Taylor of the Putiki Mission station near Wanganui in 1861. Ready for planting two years later, one of the seedlings was sent to Christchurch.

The 26 metre Albert Edward Oak, growing near the Avon River and the south west corner of the Archery Lawn, has a crown diameter of 32 metres. Showing signs of stress because of breathing difficulties through its roots, the tree is being carefully monitored by gardens' staff. Emergency treatment has included mulching and loosening the soil around the tree.

The oak is included in the gardens' Historic and Notable Tree Walk, which is described in a brochure available at the Information Centre.

Another imposing oak with an interesting history was planted at 90 Ensors Rd in 1917 by Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

His visit to the site of the former Girls' Training School, now owned by Christchurch Polytechnic, followed Shackleton's epic battle for survival after his ship the Endurance was crushed by ice and sank in the Weddell Sea. Shackleton had earlier given a lecture to aid the school's building fund.

The cluster of cabbage trees near the corner of Memorial Avenue and Greers Road once helped guide early Maori from Rapaki and Lake Ellesmere through treacherous swampland to the Ngai Tahu pa at Kaiapoi. Travellers often used the trees as a resting place.

European settlers making their way westward in the early 1850s also relied on the cabbage trees to fix their position.

Although the original trunks of the cabbage trees, known to Maori as Te Heirenga ora, died long ago new trees sprouted in their place.

The 12 metre tall trees are now a focal point for Burnside High School. As well as being the school's motif they inspired the school motto:

Recte sic dirige cursum meaning Along this path direct your journey correctly.

The resilient cabbage trees remain a signpost for those who pass their way.

Jennie Hamilton

"I have a dream of the whole earth made green again, an earth healed and made whole through the efforts of children of all ages and all nations planting trees to express their special understanding of the earth as their home."

The late Richard St Barbe Baker ('Man of the Trees').




Our Environment Index
This page is not a current Christchurch City Council document. Please read our disclaimer.
© Christchurch City Council, Christchurch, New Zealand | Contact the Council