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Tree Information x

Identifier: NNR/0749
Historical Reg No: 398a
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Grundy, P.R.
Registration Category: Historic tree – National interest
General Notes:
Rākau o te tau / Tree of the year finalist 2022.

This tree is located on a prominent ridge above the city of Nelson called Signal Hill. A Heritage New Zealand sign beside the tree reads; 'The Songer Tree was planted in memory of Captain Arthur Wakefield. William Songer was invited by the Nelson City Council to assist at the planting. Songer provided a link back to the first signal staff on the site, having been present when the Union Jack was hoisted on 13 December 1841. The planting of the tree, donated by local nurseryman John Hale, was arranged for 25 July 1900. Due to a misunderstanding, the 84 year old was late for the ceremony and was disappointed to find the tree had already been planted. This caused vigorous debate at the next council meeting. Councillor Baigent insisted that it had to be replanted because the inscription said that it had been planted under the direction of William Songer. His argument won the day, despite a warning from John Hale that the tree might not survive such treatment. On 20 August 1900 it was dug up and William Songer replanted it in a most workmanlike manner. Fortunately the tree flourished and, by a strange quirk, came to be known by the name of the man who planted it, rather than that of the man whose memory it was planted'.
A complete history of 'The Nelson Signal Station' can be viewed at

The Heritage New Zealand sign also records the lives of Wakefield & Songer.
Captain Arthur Wakefield 1799 – 1843
Arthur Wakefield resigned from the royal Navy in 1841 to join the New Zealand Company’s second colony. He led the preliminary expedition of three ships which reached Nelson in November 1841. Wakefield gained respect as a leader of the new settlement but there was discontent over the shortage of available land. In 1843 he decided to proceed with surveying in the Wairau Valley, despite protests by Maori. Wakefield was among those killed in a resulting confrontation at Tua Marina on 17 June 1843.

William Songer 1814 – 1904
William Songer came from the village of Stoke by Nayland in Suffolk, England. He joined the preliminary expedition to Nelson as Captain Arthur Wakefield’s personal servant. Songer began farming in Suburban South and at his suggestion the area was named Stoke, after his home village. A stalwart of St. Barnabas Church, he filled a number of its offices, including church warden and sexton. William Songer died on 13 August 1904 at the age of 90.

Single Tree Details

Genus: Sequoiadendron
Species: giganteum
Common names: giant sequoia, giant redwood, Sierra redwood, Wellingtonia
Given Name: The 'Songer Tree'
Height: 25.80m
Height measurement method: Laser Nikon Forestry 550
Height Comments: (none)
Girth: 480 cm
Girth measurement height: 1.4 m
Girth Comments: (none)
Diameter: 152.8 cm
Crown Spread A: 15.00m
Crown Spread B: 15.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 15.00m
Actual Planting Date: Jul 1900
Approx. Planting Date:
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 124 years
Tree Health Description: In very good health.
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: The top has been removed due to disease. Branching almost to the ground.
Champion Tree Score: 286
Local Protection Status: Yes
Tree Present: Yes
STEM Score: 246


Date Observer Action
26 Aug 2020 Cadwallader, B.G.
17 Jul 2010 Cadwallader, B.G.
10 Jan 1994 Grundy, P.R.


Lat/Long: -41.26946886327384 / 173.26674610376358
Location Name: Signal Hill
Address: 50 Britannia Heights
City/Town: Nelson
Region: Nelson
Location Description: Located beside the footpath in a generous road reserve.
Public Accessibility: Road Reserve
Local Authority: Nelson City Council


Preview Credit Date
Brad Cadwallader 14 Jul 2010
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