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Tree Information x

Identifier: WTR/1889
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Lloyd, M.
Registration Category: Notable tree/s – Local interest
General Notes:
Shortly after Lord and Lady Galway took up residence in Government House as part of Lord Galway’s term as Governor General (1935-1941), they directed the gardening staff to upgrade and expand the gardens[1]. In May 1936 Mr G. Aggett, the head gardener, placed a substantial order (2 pages long) for shrubs and trees with Harrison’s Nursery, Palmerston North. On the second page can be found, ‘2 Phoenix Cariensis [sic], 10 yr. large 25/50-0’ (see image below [2]). It is not known whether the two planted palms were indeed 10 years old at planting, nevertheless, given a planting date of approximately July 1936 the pair are most probably the earliest Phoenix palms to be planted in the Wellington region [3]. Found on either side of the Basin Reserve entrance, just up from the formal brick and iron gate, they have an obvious ‘sentinel’ symbolism. The idea to plant the two Phoenix palms may have come from the head gardener, or someone else, however, in their official trips about New Zealand Lord and Lady Galway would have come across already well-established palms (eg. in Auckland, Palmerston North), and this may well be the impetus for including the palms in the garden expansion begun in 1936.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Kate Olsen, Government House, for background information and a tour of the gardens.

1. Gavin Mclean, (2006), The Governors: New Zealand’s Governors and Governors-Generals, Dunedin: Otago University Press, p. 229.
2. R25044942 Government House, Wellington, Hospital Road Paddock, Kindergarten, Garden Allotments, Box 29, Archives New Zealand. Dossier G58 Gardens and Grounds 1936 -1946 contains the plant order placed by Mr Aggett. The dossier also shows orders for plant seeds from Australia, Fiji and Rarotonga, a great interest in bulbs and lilies, and planting acquisitions for a new rock/alpine garden (accessed May 3, 2023).
3. Their planting predates a group in the Wellington Botanic Gardens which were planted in 1938 (Clare Shearman, personal communication, February 8, 2023); I know of no other candidates for an earlier planting date.

Single Tree Details

Genus: Phoenix
Species: canariensis
Common names: Canary Island date palm, phoenix palm
Height: 13.00m
Height measurement method: Estimated
Height Comments: The southernmost palm is higher than the northernmost.
Girth: 0 cm
Girth measurement height: 0 m
Girth Comments: not measured
Diameter: 0 cm
Crown Spread A: 6.00m
Crown Spread B: 6.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 6.00m
Actual Planting Date: Jul 1936
Approx. Planting Date:
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 88 years
Tree Health Description: Excellent
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: (none)
Champion Tree Score: 48
Local Protection Status: No
Tree Present: Yes
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
04 May 2023 Lloyd, M.


Lat/Long: -41.3020409808274 / 174.78087145090106
Location Name: Government House, Wellington
Address: 1 Rugby St
Suburb: Newtown
City/Town: Wellington
Region: Wellington
Location Description: South-east corner of Basin Reserve entrance to Government House
Public Accessibility: Trust Administered Park/Garden
Local Authority: Wellington City Council


Preview Credit Date
Michael Lloyd 03 May 2023
Michael Lloyd 26 Apr 2023
Michael Lloyd 16 Apr 2023
Michael Lloyd 16 Apr 2023
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