Wellington Botanic Garden
Dates Of Note
Directors of the New Zealand Company make
provision for a Town Belt during the
planning and establishment of Wellington.
Garden area of 13 acres shown on early city
for Botanic Garden (12 acres, 1 rood, 19
perches) appropriated from the land set
aside for Public Reserves part of the Town
Belt Reserve vested in the Crown)
grant of land to the New Zealand Company did
not include the Botanic Garden that remained
with the Crown.
The map attached to the Grant clearly shows
location of the Garden, the first map to
specifically show this.
authorises the Superintendent to purchase
adjacent Wesleyan Reserve land as a
James Hector, Government consultant on all
matters of scientific interest asked by the
Government to examine the botanic reserve.
Wesleyan Reserve land recorded as still
covered with native forest in a "tolerable
state of preservation" unlike. the Botanic
Garden Reserve which had virtually been
cleared of native forest by this time.
Reserve declared a Government Domain.
Superintendent appoints Dr. James Hector as
Manager of the Garden.
Ludlam, Member of the House of
Representatives introduces the 'Botanic
Garden Bill' to Parliament. The act is
passed and the Botanic Garden is entrusted
to the Governors of New Zealand Institute,
the forerunner of the present Royal Society
of New Zealand. Under the name of the
Botanic Garden Board, the New Zealand
Institute Governors administer the Garden.
James Hector, Manager for both Boards.
The Act provides for use of the Garden for
acclimatisation purposes. This causes
Hector's position as Director of the New
Zealand Geological Survey and the Colonial
Museum means that the work in the Garden is
closely related to these institutions as
well as to the direction of the Botanic
During the period of administration by the
New Zealand Institute the Garden were to
meet three identifiable but overlapping
1. For Government -
a trial ground examining the economic
potential of plants, particularly
2. For scientists - a garden for the
study and collection of indigenous flora
and establishment of exotic plants.
3. For the public - a place .of
recreation and enjoyment.
Amongst the first
Monterey Pines brought into NZ are these in
the Botanic Garden dating from seed imported
in 1869. Alfred Ludlam, who was involved
with the garden from the earliest days, is
recorded as having had Pinus radiata in his
possession from around 1865. Plants may well
have been planted in the Garden from around
that time, although documentary evidence for
this is not available. Certainly records
show (P. radiata, as P. insignis) were field
planted in June 1871 (24, plus 48 shortly
after) with seed regularly purchased from
1870. From 1871 to 1872 361 P. radiata were
The Acland family at Mount Peel Station had
made the first NZ introduction of British
seedlings in 1859 in Canterbury only some 30
years after its discovery by European
collectors in 1830. Their family property in
Devon had been used to trial the plants, and
thus they had the ability to obtain seed at
a very early stage. In the early days they
were referred to as Pinus insignis. Further
importations of plants from Britain and
Australia into the Canterbury area in
particular showed the value of these trees,
and Hector was probably aware of their
performance in that area when he arrived in
Wellington in 1865. He commenced importing
seed from California in comparatively large
quantities, and he would not have done this
if he had not had some understanding of
their potential value and suitability to
Over the period 1869 to
1879 over 25 kg (56 pounds) of seed was
imported from a number of American suppliers
in particular Professor Kellog of San
Francisco., which was distributed around NZ,
with many plants raised in nurseries in the
Garden. Seed from Matamata was used for
initial planting of the pine forests in the
central North Island establishing our forestry
industry, and it is likely seed for those
plants was from Wellington importations. From
1870 to 1885 some 500,000 Pinus radiata
seedlings were distributed throughout the
country from the Wellington Botanic Garden.
PINUS RADIATA ON DRUID HILL
Monterey Pine has a rather shallow rooting and
inclined to blow over in very strong winds.
During the Wahine storm in April 1968, many of
the Botanic Garden's Monterey Pines were blown
Monterey Pine comes from three distinct
unconnected areas of central coastal
California, named from one locality, the
Monterey Peninsula. It is now rare in its
natural habitat because of fungal disease and
the encroachment of towns and cities. In
recent years genetically improved trees have
been imported back into California from New
Zealand, and these are now cross hybridising
with the native stock, raising questions of
the status of the native genotype in its
natural habitat. .
The pines in the Wellington Botanic Garden are
from wild seed collections of unselected
stock, and therefore represent a very historic
and important genetic resource of the original
wild population, which is being gradually lost
in its natural habitat. It is for this reason
why the genetic material of this tress is so
valuable with preservation of the natural
genotype of increasing concern.
The natural variation in the trees can be seen
from plants in the garden; some excellent
timber specimens and some where you would be
lucky to obtain a straight matchstick. With
our trees now some 130 years old and reaching
toward their usual maximum age of around 150
years, the preservation of this genetic
heritage is becoming a matter of urgency. In a
production forest trees are usually harvested
between 20-40 years old.
Pinus radiata was originally brought into the
country as a shelter and firewood tree
although by the end of the 19th century its
timber capabilities were becoming recognised.
It was not until shortly after the First World
War that significant timber planting occurred.
Due to many years of selection for the best
trees for rapid growth rate and quality of
timber, the trees seen in the pine plantations
today do not resemble these trees in the
Garden. These trees are the progeny of
unselected natural stock, and contain a wide
range of genetic variation, which is why is
has been such a successful tree from which to
select the desired characteristics for our
Bramley appointed first Superintendent.
land brought under the City Reserves Act of
1871 amended to provide money for the
development of the Garden.
plan of the Garden Shows extent of native
forest including kanuka.
Wesleyan Reserves land of 54 acres 1 rood 24
perches conveyed under Wellington City
Reserves Act to bring the total area of the
gardens to 68 acres 1 rood 20 perches.
reserve areas intended for the cemetery
totaling 8 acres 3 roods 30 perches included
under the supervision of the Botanic Garden
First map of the Garden. It shows much of the
layout as it is today. Paths are named, Main
Drive is formed, native forest and other
Abolition of the Provinces denies provincial
funding of the Garden.
During the 1870's and 1880's the major source
of revenue (£300 per annum) came from central
Government for testing the economic potential
of plants they introduced. During this period
most of the conifer introductions occurred.
Only other income comes from the Town Belt
. Two cases of 'immorality' occurred. One
couple entered the new pine plantations and
damaged a tree. Charged, they were sentenced
to one month's hard labour, subsequently
reduced to 1 week after a public outcry. The
other couple also charged fled the colony.
Cottage built. This is now the Caretaker's
Botanic Garden constabulary established and
the cottage occupied by a constable
Government financial Grant given this year. (A
nationwide downturn in the economy in the
1880's reflected in a progressive reduction in
funds for the Garden).
establishes the Teaching. Garden on the site
of the present Sound Shell Lawn. It is the
first such development in the Garden.
GLOW WORM TOUR
BY FRIENDS GUIDES
The European settlers found the glowworms when
they arrived in the country and were
immediately fascinated with them. The earliest
published reports were of insects found in
drives in the Thames Goldfields.
The true nature of these insects was first
described by a young 18 year old English man
George Vernon Hudson, living in Karori
Wellington, only a short distance from the
Garden. On arrival in Wellington he commenced
studying them, and in 1886 said they were the
larva's of a two-winged fly, a 'fungus gnat'.
He had studied them along the Garden's Puketea
Stream since arriving to Wellington in 1883.
In conjunction with Albert Norris they were
able to unravel the life history over the next
10 years. Hudson spent in total some 60 years
studying and writing about them and other
insects in this country while working for the
Wellington City Council recognises the problem
with funding and although it is able to
increase the City's contribution they are
unwilling to do so through another authority.
deputation from the Wellington City Council
goes to he Premier with a proposal to transfer
management of the garden to the council. The
Botanic Garden records unanimous opposition to
Botanic Garden Vesting Bill introduced into
the House of Representatives proposing a
change in management to the Wellington City
Council. The Botanic Garden Board argues the
importance of the original 13 acres and the
need to safeguard this area for the purposes
of botany for all time. The need for an
observatory site was also pressed for at this
The Wellington Botanic Garden Vesting Act
passed with the provision made, for a 6 acre
site for a future observatory and the
requirement that the original 13 acres he
maintained as a Botanic Garden in perpetuity.
At the time of the Vesting Act three major
issues were facing the Garden:
1 The spread of
gorse in the Garden.
2. Broken fences and consequently
problems with wandering stock causing
3. Lack of funds.
grows for the Garden to be developed as a
"pleasure ground" rather than a "scientific
Battery on Observatory Reserve site
constructed. It involves 4.5 acres enclosed
by barbed wire and is regarded as a
significant physical and visual intrusion on
Glen becomes Head Gardener.
Car opens and thus provides a new and
important access to the Garden. In the first
year of operation 425,000 people used the
Main Garden from Main Gates to the first
ridge cleared of pines and replanted
(between 1902 - 06).
Glen appointed Superintendent of Baths and
Tea Kiosk at the top of the Cable Car opens
on land leased to the Kelburn and Karori
The City's trams electrified and extended up
to the Main Gate of the Garden in Glenmore
Gun Battery dismantled.
Nucleus of alpine rockery established.
Children's play area established.
Provision for women's public toilets.
Observatory started on Observatory site.
Work starts on the clearing and earthworks
for the recreation around (which later
becomes Anderson Park). The scale of the
earthworks causes considerable physical and
visual damage. A large dark gully results
that ends abruptly in a wall of fill making
up the Park. This gully becomes a rubbish
tip until the 1930's.
Newtown Park Zoo established and the small
zoo at the Garden closed down.
rotunda built near Duck Pond.
Hector observatory finished.
Entrance to Garden from Mariri Road and
Mariri Road lawn formed.
Anderson Park ready for use.
Fernery completed and opened to the public
extension to the alpine garden opposite the
band rotunda built. Other rockeries
removed from lower slopes of Druid Hill.
1914 Stables and mess room built. Potting
shed and nursery built soon after.
tulips with Summerhouse Gazebo
Summerhouse/gazebo on Main Drive erected.. It
was originally built by the Carpenters' Union
for their float in the Labor Day procession.
Provision of men's public toilets and also for
staff in the new stables and mess room
1918........ J G
Mackenzie appointed the first Director of
Parks and Reserves.
Start of many new plantings, particularly
More pines removed from Druid Hill slope.
piers and iron gates (ex Hospital Board)
erected, a project that had languished since
Mackenzie proposes the idea of a Winter
Garden, forerunner of the Begonia House.
Cockayne writes of the importance of native
forest in the Garden.
Moves by Cockayne and Mackenzie to establish
1927........ Start of
remodeling of entire frontage of Garden as a
result of the widening of Glenmore Street and
Formation of Magpie Lawn above Glenmore Street
started. This involves cutting part of the
ridge and filling the Glenmore Gully below.
Remodeling of frontage of Garden completed.
Park extension started. This involves filling
in the remains of the valley left over from
the formation of Anderson Park.
Park extension completed.
Observatory Act passed.
Mackenzie retires and Edward Hutt appointed
Berhampore Nursery opened as central
propagating area for the Parks and Reserves
Department but the nursery in the Garden
continues to produce plants.
Suggestion for a rose garden made (on the
starts on Lady Norwood Rose Garden.
Norwood Rose Garden opened. (photo below)
Modern view of
Rose Garden, Begonia House and
Norwood donates fountain to the Rose Garden.
(This was replaced by the Norwood family in
Begonia House built.
Peace Garden established.
Galloway appointed Director of Parks and
Storm in April and a great deal old growth
Period of redevelopment of the Garden begins
subsequent to the storm under the
supervision of Ray Mole curator of Otari
Native Plant Museum who is also appointed
Curator of the Botanic Garden.
Garden established with support from the
Wellington Herb Society.
Summer Festival begins.
by Rose Garden
First Management Plan for the Garden is
produced by Parks and Reserves Department.
Interpretive Centre established in the shed
that housed the engine for the Cable Car.
part of the additions to the Herb Garden
Galloway dies suddenly. Richard Nanson
appointed Director of Parks and Reserves and
Interpretive Centre closed. Now used for
Draft Management Plan for the Garden produced.
History of the Botanic Garden 1840-1987 by
Winsome Shepherd and Walter Cook published.
1989........ The Lily
House added to the Tea and Begonia complex in
he Rose Garden.
Organisation established in May 1990.
Mike Oates appointed Curator.
Opening of the Tree House and WWF
celebrations of WCC garden management.
planting - James Hector Pinetum.
Pond was redesigned and the old macrocarpa
of Guides Rob Bos commences meet and greet
service at Cable Car entrance on days when
visiting cruise ships are in port. Becomes a
significant feature of guides activities.
Cable Car Museum was opened
Children's Playground redesigned. Tony
Williams appointed curator
Redevelopment of Begonia House, shop and
Williams resigns. David Sole appointed Manager
Krupp gun installed by Battery.
Centennial entrance walkway
Bush remnants study
Propagation of historic trees commenced.
Registration by Historic Places Trust as
of old pines and redevelopment of children's
Modernisation of Founders Gate precinct.
Completion of Anderson Park walkway
introduced by Friends to assist guides in meet
and greet service during cruise ship visit
Completon of Guide Shelter
at Cable Car entrance
Refurbishment of Joy fountain completed, part
funded by Friends
Amoris exhibition in Treehosse
Monet exhibtion features in Garden, including
Register of Memorials and
Plaques live on Friends website.
Replacement of nursery glasshouses completed