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Tree Information x

Identifier: AR/1253
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Cadwallader, B.G.
Registration Category: Historic tree/s – Local interest
General Notes:
Rākau o te tau / Tree of the year finalist 2022.

Whilst this tree takes pride of place for all to see in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, the real attributes of this grand old pōhutukawa remain hidden by its own immense canopy until those curious enough step inside to take a closer look.

The tree is thought to have been planted between 1850 and 1860 (Burstall, 1971) or more precisely 1853 (Simpson, 2005) although firm evidence of this has not yet come to light. Further uncertainty exists as to whom may have planted it, but the contenders are thought by some to be either the Hon. William Swainson, Robert Gillies or Sir John Logan Campbell (Burstall, 1971), all former residents of land later acquired by the city to form this park in 1914 (Auckland Star, 1914).

'Kilbryde', the homestead of Sir John Logan Campbell was located immediately to the west of the tree (Timespanner) so he is most likely responsible for having planted it, if indeed it is a cultivated specimen. An Image taken of the homestead in 1885 shows young plantings around the house (Auckland Libraries) and a small multi-stemmed tree can be seen behind the house in the position of the pōhutukawa but it is unclear how old it is. The early plantings were probably planted when ‘Kilbryde’ as built in 1881, however, there remains the possibility that the pōhutukawa was part of the native cover that pre-existed when Campbell established the property as suggested in his obituary, although no large tree can be seen in early images:
“With his own axe he cut down the scrub and hewed out paths along the edge of the cliff from one side round to the other. He planted macrocarpa, Pinus insignis, and other shade trees, and here and there left native trees to themselves” (Auckland Star, 1912).

The true origins of the tree may remain lost to time and continue to be open to speculation but certainly by 1917, as an Arthur Langden painting portrays, the tree had developed into a substantial specimen by then (Alexander Turnbull Library).

The grand old homestead was demolished when much of the cliff at Campbell's Point (as the headland was formerly known) was carved away to construct the new main trunk railway link through the eastern suburbs, Tamaki Drive, and to provide fill for the harbour reclamations that took place in the late 1920s (Timespanner). The remainder of the Gillies, Campbell and Swainson estates' were named collectively as Parnell Park (NZ Herald 1924) and in 1991 was re-named Dove-Myer Robinson Park. Many people still know the area as the Parnell Rose Gardens.

So in the end, we may not know who or even if the pōhutukawa was planted by any of the first settlers at Campbell’s Point, but what is certain is that this remarkable tree was valued by all those that have lived here over the past century and a half, as they all saw fit to ensure it was well cared for to become the treasure that it is today (Cadwallader 2014).

Acknowledgement: The author appreciates the assistance of Louise Beaumont and John Adam in the research undertaken for this article.

1) Burstall, S.W. (1971) NZFRI, Historic and Notable Trees of New Zealand: Northland and Auckland. Report No. 16 (unpublished), pg. 32.
2) Simpson, P. (2005) Pohutukawa and Rata: New Zealand's iron hearted trees, p. 207.
3) An Historic Spot, Auckland Star, 23 December 1914, p. 2.
4) Timespanner See YouTube 3-D reconstruction by David Hirtzell, accessed November 21, 2014.
5) 'Kilbryde', Image (1885). Sir George Grey Special collections Auckland Libraries, 4-461.
6) The Father of Auckland, Auckland Star, 22 June 1912, p. 5.
7) Haylock, Arthur Lagden, 1860-1948: Logan Campbell's home in Parnell Park, Auckland 1917. Ref: B-061-011. Alexander Turnbull Library.
8) Parnell Park. New Zealand Herald, 23 August 1924, p. 11.

Single Tree Details

Genus: Metrosideros
Species: excelsa
Common names: pōhutukawa,
Given Name: The Kilbryde Pōhutukawa
Height: 14.00m
Height measurement method: Laser Nikon Forestry 550
Height Comments: (none)
Girth: 990 cm
Girth measurement height: 0.1 m
Girth Comments: Taken near ground level
Diameter: 315.1 cm
Crown Spread A: 47.00m
Crown Spread B: 40.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 43.50m
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date: c1881
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 143 years
Tree Health Description: In good health
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 5
Tree Form Comments: A sprawling tree resting on the ground in many places.
Champion Tree Score: 0
Local Protection Status: Unknown
Tree Present: Yes
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
23 Oct 2014 Cadwallader, B.G.
23 Nov 1970 Burstall, S.W.


Lat/Long: -36.84908344618554 / 174.7866817941872
Location Name: Dove-Myer Robinson Park
Address: 87 Gladstone Road
Suburb: Parnell
City/Town: Auckland
Region: Auckland
Location Description: In the main lawn to the north of the car park.
Public Accessibility: Local Council Park
Local Authority: Auckland Council


Preview Credit Date
Brad Cadwallader 23 Oct 2014
Brad Cadwallader 23 Oct 2014
Brad Cadwallader 23 Oct 2014
David Hirtzell 24 Apr 2011
Haylock, Arthur Lagden, 1860-1948: Logan Campbell's home in Parnell Park, Auckland 1917. ATL Ref: B-061-011 01 Jan 1917
James D. Richardson Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 4-680 1885 01 Jan 1885
Richardson, James D. Sir Geroge Grey Special collections Auckland Library 4-681 01 Jan 1885
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