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Edward Phillips-Turner


Born in England, Edward Phillips-Turner grew up in Tasmania before settling in New Zealand in 1884. He trained as a surveyor and worked in various parts of New Zealand as well as in Tasmania and New South Wales. In 1894 he joined the Department of Lands and Survey, and over the next 12 years he undertook surveys in several regions, especially in the Rotorua, Tarawera and Waikato areas. In 1907 he was appointed inspector of scenic reserves and travelled widely, gaining a very good knowledge of the vegetation and landscape. In 1908 he and Leonard Cockayne surveyed the central volcanic region and made recommendations on the boundaries for Tongariro National Park. During the following years, he was responsible for delimiting scenic reserves on the Mokau and Whanganui rivers and along the main trunk railway. Phillips-Turner was appointed permanent head and secretary of the newly established Forestry Department in 1919, and from 1928 until his retirement in 1931, he was director of forestry. He published numerous works on botany and forestry, the most important of which was The trees of New Zealand, written collaboratively with Cockayne. He was a distinguished member of many professional societies and conservation organisations. In his final years he advocated a bureau to administer national parks, and he argued for a balance in policy between protection and recreation – a dual objective echoed in the 1952 national parks legislation.


Appendix to the journals of the House of Representatives 1923, C-6

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Edward Phillips-Turner, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated