Te Mata Anzac memorial tree

View of pine tree in a grass field

View of weathered plaque attached an old piece of wood

A somewhat battered but still dignified pine tree stands in a grove of trees beside the stream on the eastern edge of Te Mata Domain. At its foot is a post with a plaque inscribed ANZAC / MEMORIAL TREE / GREAT GRANDCHILD OF / FAMOUS GALLIPOLI / "LONE PINE".

The 'Gallipoli Lone Pine' referred to here is a solitary pine tree which stood on a ridge where some of the fiercest fighting of the Gallipoli campaign took place (hence the name Lone Pine Ridge and the location of the Lone Pine memorial). Although the tree was destroyed in the fighting, a number of memorial pine trees have been planted in Australia since 1933 and New Zealand since 1950 or 1951 which were grown or descended from seeds brought back from the battlefield.

One such was at the Te Mata cemetery, where on 29 September 1961 Gallipoli veteran J. L. Y. Martyn planted a seedling grown from the seeds of the first 'lone pine' planted in New Zealand (see Taradale Cemetery Lone Pine memorial). The Te Mata cemetery pine was cut down in 1983, but it seems that one or more seedlings had been or were subsequently planted in the Te Mata Domain. The plaque was presumably installed or relocated around this time. Puzzlingly, a tiny plaque with the date '1951' is also affixed to the marker post (perhaps this refers to the date the 'mother tree' was planted in the Taradale cemetery). Another local mystery is the reported discovery of a 'Lone Pine' plaque of unknown provenance on the Raglan golf course in 2005. This raises the possibility that there are other 'lone pine' descendants in the area.

On the bottom right hand corner of the Te Mata plaque the tree is identified as Pinus halepensis (Aleppo pine). However, the original 'Gallipoli lone pine' was almost certainly a Turkish red pine (Pinus brutia). Recent research by botanists Mike Wilcox and David Spencer has established that the only Pinus brutia 'lone pine' planted in New Zealand prior to 2009 was one planted on the Paeroa golf course. In 2015 a number of seedlings grown at the Rotorua headquarters of Scion (NZ Forest Research Institute) from seeds from the Paeroa tree were distributed around the country as living memorials (see Lone Pine memorials project).

Sources: 'Planting of Lone Pine in Te Mata cemetery', Raglan County Chronicle, 12/10/1961, p. 1; Raglan and Districts RSA, 1932-2007, Raglan, 2007, pp. 121, 131-2, 139; Mike Wilcox and David Spencer, 'Stand up the real Anzac Lone Pine of Gallipoli', New Zealand Journal of Forestry, vol. 52, no. 1, May 2007, pp. 3-9; 'Lone Gallipoli pines to live on in Anzac tribute', Stuff National, 22/4/2015.

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