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28 August 2015

Lone Pine gesture strikes the right note

Scion, the Crown Research Institute that specialises in forestry, struck the right note for the centennial of the Gallipoli campaign.

It propagated 50 descendants of the Gallipoli Peninsula’s fabled Lone Pine and gifted them to RSAs from Waiuku to Invercargill. Seedlings were also sent to the National Army Museum in Waiouru for a memorial garden. In Rotorua, the home of Scion, a seedling was planted in the Government Gardens at an evening ceremony to consecrate Rotorua’s Field of Remembrance.

The seeds were collected in 2012 from the only living Turkish red pine in New Zealand, a gnarly old specimen on the second hole of the Paeroa Golf Course. This tree is an authenticated New Zealand descendant of the original Lone Pine, a tree that stood on the Gallipoli battlefield until it was destroyed by gunfire. Australian Sergeant Keith McDowell brought home a pine cone from the trees when he returned home after World War 1.  

Trees that grew from that seed were planted at war memorials in Australia, and now New Zealand.

Scion tree breeder Toby Stovold who collected the seeds and helped raise the seedlings from the Paeroa specimen said he first got involved in 2009 when approached by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council wanting to donate seedlings from the Paeroa tree to RSAs in the region.

The gesture by Scion is an excellent example of good community public relations. It is directly related to Scion’s core activity; is pitch-perfect for attracting media coverage – with each planting ceremony an opportunity to connect with local communities; and it won’t have cost much.

Well done, Scion.

- Trevor Walton

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