The Duke and Duchess of Sussex plant iconic NZ native trees
QEII National Trust selected two iconic native trees for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to plant as part of their Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy dedication event held today.
James Guild, QEII National Trust Chair says “when we had the opportunity to have Their Royal Highnesses dedicate our latest QCC covenant there was nothing more natural than to ask them to also plant an iconic New Zealand native tree each as part of the event.”
The Royal couple planted the native trees with children from Pinehill School who are involved with Trees for Survival, an environmental education programme which involves young people growing and planting native trees.
QEII National Trust has put a lot of thought into selecting the species of trees the couple planted.
“His Royal Highness will be planting a puriri tree, and The Duchess will be planting a kōwhai. We would love to think that one day Baby Sussex might return to New Zealand to check in on the trees his or her parents planted on their first Royal visit to New Zealand,” says James Guild.
The Duchess’s wedding veil included the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country - New Zealand was represented with the kōwhai flower.
QEII National Trust Communications Manager Georgie McLeod says “there is a nice symmetry in having The Duchess plant a kōwhai tree after including the kōwhai flower in her wedding veil. We also thought it would be nice for The Duchess to see a kōwhai up close in real life. It’s just a shame we’ve missed the season for seeing this beautiful and iconic tree in flower!”
Kōwhai is found throughout New Zealand. It produces abundant flowers in spring and is a favourite food of tree geckos, tui, bellbird and kereru. Kōwhai also means yellow in te reo Māori.
The puriri tree was chosen for The Duke because there are several puriri in the native bush that they are visiting.
Chris Floyd, QEII National Trust regional representative said “there are some huge puriri in this forest, some of them will be up to 300 years old. There is one absolute hero tree on the road through the covenant that the Royal couple will drive past. It seemed appropriate for The Duke to plant a tree that he has seen a stunning example of up close.”
Puriri is only found in the top half of the North Island of New Zealand. They can reach 20 metres tall with a trunk up to 1.5 metres in diameter. They fruit continuously during the year and are sought by kererū (wood pigeon) and kākā. The trees also serve as the main home for puriri moth - New Zealand’s largest moth.
This puriri pictured (below), is on the side of the track as you drive through the covenant and thought to be up to 300 years old.