Pines and the pinetum

The Pinetum

The James Hector Pinetum was inaugurated on Arbor Day, 23 June 1992.


Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard
and Botanic Gardens gardener Rodney Read share a laugh over some spades at an Arbor Day ceremony at the formal opening of the Pinetum.. Friends of the
Gardens member Rob Bos looks on. Dame Catherine confessed to not being a green thumb as she asked the Kelburn Normal School pupils to remove the baby pine tree from its sacking and walk lightly over the freshly dug soil to nestle it in its new home at Magpie Spur near the Mariri Rd entrance to the gardens. Peter Hector, the great-grandson of the garden's first manager, Sir James Hector, helped Dame Catherine with the planting.

(Material from the Rob Bos archive)

The first officially planted tree was a Pinus sabiniana planted by the Governor General Dame Catherine Tizard, aided by Peter Hector, great grandson of Sir James Hector. Other trees were planted by pupils of the Kelburn Normal School in the presence of Garden staff and Friends of the Botanic Garden.

The Pinetum was to form a link between the past and the present.

A pinetum is effectively a 'living museum' to show pines growing and enabling visitors to see and enjoy a number of representative species. Essentially it is a collection of cone-bearing trees and includes all conifers and not just members of the pinus genus.

It was named to honour James Hector, the 'founding father' of the Garden. Background to Hector and the early Garden history and a discussion of pines in the Garden is found elsewhere on this site.

It was from pines imported by the Wellington Botanic Garden and distributed throughout the country from which the forestry industry was developed in this country that forms part of the claim that this is 'the most historically significant public garden in New Zealand'.

This is not a widely visited area of the Garden but it does contain some interesting trees and there are good views. The return walk to the Main Garden passes through some of the best of the native bush remnant.

It is easier to enter via West Way and return past Magpie Lawn down Rangoria Path.

Set in stone ~ Rosalind Iles (right) and
Winsome Shepherd and the memorial

Unveiled by Te Papa's chief executive, Dr Seddon the highest triangulation (survey) point in the Gardens, near the Mariri Street entrance, off Boundary Hill the site would change its name to the James Hector Memorial Lookout.

Friends of the Botanical Gardens member and author of the 1996 book History of the Botanic Gardens in Wellington, Winsome Shepherd said Sir James was at the forefront of early science in Wellington. "He was in demand from anyone who wanted to know anything," she said, explaining why he was still so revered. The various species of pines that Sir James introduced to New Zealand had gone on to found the basis of New Zealand's forestry industry.

A number of pines have been planted by Governors General for the Friends of the Wellington Botanic Garden. Dame Catherine Tizard planted the first tree when she formally opened the Pinetum, and trees have also been planted by Dame Silvia Cartwright and Sir Michael Hardie Boys. These trees are all marked by commemorative plaques.

James Hector Memorial.
At rear
Pinus radiata, the most important tree
Hector was responsible
for commercial introduction into New Zealand

Memorial with Pinus pinea the Mediterranean Stone Pine,
looking towards the Hutt Valley

Views of Hector Memorial and Pinetum area

Pinus patula from Mexico and wider view of pinetum