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Tree Information x

Identifier: NR/0726
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Thwaites, K
Registration Category: Historic tree/s – Local interest
General Notes:

This prominent tree is considered to be the oldest Norfolk Island pine on the Russell Peninsula. The tree cannot be missed towering above all others on the peninsula. Thwaites, K. 2010.

The following was published in the local Museum newsletter ‘Russell Lights’ - Volume 11 - Issue 22 - October 2008
A Norfolk pine stands sentinel on a knoll at the end of the Te Wahapu peninsula, in a prominent position within one of our recreational reserves. A sign below the tree was erected to mark the reserve in July 1988 by the Historic Places Trust. The wording on the sign is:
‘In this bay, Te Wahapu, a trading post and ship repair yard were established by Gilbert Mair in 1831, and run by him with William Powditch as a partner in the early years. Mair’s house stood on the point, beside the Norfolk Island pine planted by Mrs. Mair about 1836. From 1840 the station was operated by American leasees, two of whom, William Mayhew and Henry Green Smith, also served as vice-consuls. It was occupied by British forces on July 20, 1846, and garrisoned by the 58th and 65th regiments until December 1857.’

The old tree has an unusual appearance. George Cook, writing in the New Zealand Herald in the 1930s under the nom de plume “Lonehander” reported:
‘…before attaining its full growth some sailors from a warship cut the top part off for a spar, and naturally there was trouble. However that bit of mischief cost the Queen’s sailors £20, and the tree grew on, but instead of only one shoot it put forth several, and strange to say they all flourished. Hence the present unique appearance…’

In 1999 concerns were held for the tree’s survival as erosion cut away at the bank below, exposing many of its roots. However the tree still flourishes, as does the one in the Waitangi Treaty grounds, which is the same age and from the same source. Mrs Mair planted one seedling and gave the other to Mr and Mrs Busby, a hundred and seventy two years ago. The Waitangi tree is a classic specimen though, with only one trunk.

A futher historical note:
The origin of this tree stems from the first recorded introduction of the species into New Zealand. Robert Mair (1830-1920), son of Gilbert Mair, lived at Te Wahapu for a period and recorded that: “In 1836 my mother (Elizabeth, wife of Gilbert Mair) had a box of Norfolk pines given her by Captain Thomas McDonnell of Hokianga. She gave two to James Busby, the then British Resident, and planted one at our home, Wahapu, Bay of Islands; the rest were destroyed by my young sister.” The following story by Robert Mair corroborates the story of the tree being cut (written on a photograph of the tree taken in 1903) “Many years after the tree was planted, a boat’s crew from one of the navel ships in the Bay of Islands, when on holiday, carried away their mast. On arriving back at the ship an officer on watch told them that they must replace it, which they did by cutting the upper part of the tree off. In 1900 it was about 80ft high”
Ref: New Zealand Forest Service, Forest Research Institute, Mensuration Report No.16 1971 (unpublished).
See also notes for Tree Registration NR/734 .

Single Tree Details

Genus: Araucaria
Species: heterophylla
Common names: Norfolk Island pine,
Height: 40.50m
Height measurement method: Clinometer
Height Comments: Taken at 30m
Girth: 713 cm
Girth measurement height: 1.4 m
Girth Comments: (none)
Diameter: 227 cm
Crown Spread A: 23.50m
Crown Spread B: 23.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 23.25m
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date: circa 1836
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 188 years
Tree Health Description: Typically thin in the upper canopy for such an old tree.
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: The tree divides into 5 large stems at approx 7m from ground level
Champion Tree Score: 433
Local Protection Status: Yes
Tree Present: Yes
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
01 Mar 2010 Cadwallader, B.G. & Gordon, L.R.


Lat/Long: -35.28536840898609 / 174.11447033285714
Location Name: Te Wahapu Reserve
Address: Barracks Place
City/Town: Russell
Region: Northland
Location Description: To get to this tree drive to the end of Te Wahapu Road and Barracks Place then take a short walk along the beach heading towards Toretore Island.
Public Accessibility: Coastal Reserve
Local Authority: Far North District Council


Preview Credit Date
Kent Thwaites 29 Jan 2006
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