The Art For Trees Project

On the 20th November 1769 Captain Cook ventured up the Waihou River, named by him that day the Thames. His journal entry tells of “ lofty trees which adorne its banks....” and a tree he measured “that girted 19 feet 8 inches 6 feet above the ground….its length from the root to the first branch to be 89 feet…as straight as an arrow…"
( J.C Beaglehole, 1955).
His companion Joseph Banks described ...the finest timber my eyes ever beheld ….thick woods of it were everywhere upon the Banks, every tree as straight as a pine and of immense size…... (J.C Beaglehole,1962)

Today, if you were to follow in Cook’s wake up the river Waihou, your gaze would be met not with magnificent native swamp forest, but acid green dairy pasture stretching away between stop banks and macrocarpa shelter belts. Of the vanished giant Kahikatea there remains only a few scrappy fragments.

The Art for Trees Project pays homage to what Cook saw that day in 1769. To the giant tree he measured not far from the spot he went ashore. The artist, Fiona Garlick, has made a forest of 400 ceramic bottles representing some of the native trees and shrubs which once adorned the banks of the Waihou, and which have been displaced by the introduced species associated with farming.


For every bottle sold, a tree will be planted across the river from Cook’s Landing site. This restorative planting program will take place in partnership with Environment Waikato with the aim of establishing an area of self sustaining native wetlands.

When will planting take place?
Planting date confirmed for Saturday 25th July 2009.

At Ferry Road Pond, on the banks of the Waihou River near where State Highway 2 meets Hauraki Road. See map.

What will be planted?
Seedlings of the plants and shrubs represented by the artwork plus many more varieties that will help to establish the complex wetlands ecosystem.


Forest of bottles

Best in Show at Object Space

Best in Show at Object Space


kahikatea 36
puketea 26
maire tawake 22
rimu 22
matai 25
tororaro 22
whau 22
makomako 20
kowhai ngutu kaka 26
putaputaweta 28
pohuehue 24
kie kie 30
upoko tangata 20
harakeke 20
ti kouka 20
kauri 16


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sad news

I found out last week, belatedly and through convoluted means, about the sad passing away of Geoff Park, in March. I feel moved to talk about it because if I had not read his amazing book Nga Uruora: Ecology and History in a New Zealand Landscape, this project would not have come about. My research began with the botanists on the Endeavour, and a fascination with what their brief collecting forays stirred up in the journals of both Cook and Joseph Banks; their voyage of discovery became very much one of resource notation. But it was following Park's pilgrimage to the Hauraki Plains, to the landing place of Captain Cook, that inspired me to both make this work and to make it exist outside of the gallery, and into the future. I have always been frustrated by New Zealand's ecological history, how we (humans) have managed to transform the landscape in such drastic ways in such a short period of time. Park's writing both inspired great grief as to what we have lost, but also a determination to try to conserve that which we have left. I am sure he has inspired many people in this way, and I am saddened to think that there will be no more writings from this passionate thinker.

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