❓ The lonely Whakapapa wilding pine – what to do

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    • #79766 Reply
      Tony Gazley

      Somewhere, in a discrete location known only to a select few but within an 800 m radius of the WTMC Ruapehu Lodge, is a lonely wilding pine—perhaps the only one on the north side of the mountain. Until recently it stood upright about a metre and a half tall although it has now capsized—either through human intervention or natural causes such as snow or wind. But it still appears healthy and apparently unfazed—it is already tending to grow vertically again.

      The issue is what to do about it. It’s an exotic tree in a World Heritage National Park. Should it just be cut down? Or its location reported to DOC? Or maybe just left alone to spread. The skifield could take on a whole new look and perhaps Iwikau Village would then be a more attractive place to visit, and for the club to have a lodge, rather than just a barren rocky landscape.

      Given that any damage or destruction to the environment in national parks is illegal, then it would seem illegitimate for any arbitrary passer-by to cut it down (it shouldn’t be up to random individuals to decide what can and can’t be destroyed).

      A more judicious approach would be to report it to DOC and let them as the park’s guardian decide what to do.

      The lonely wilding pine

      But, NZ is a world leader in granting legal rights to natural objects. The vote for woman is an early example. More recently are the Whanganui River, and Mt Taranaki. Taranaki is now accorded the status of Mr Te Kāhui Tupua. Both the river and mountain have legal rights in the same way rights are granted to all humans, many animals, and some non-sentient entities such as corporations and trusts. 

      So why not include plants such as our lonely pine tree? Maybe it should possess analogous rights and be able to institute legal actions on its own behalf while not being a victim of speciesism?  It’s natural interests as represented by its ‘guardian’ would presumably include not being injured or cut down.

      So, what should be done and why?

      P.S. Although, if the final outcome is to chop it down and take it back to the Ruapehu Lodge to decorate as a Xmas tree then consider that some of the most attractive presents you could tie to its branches would be Tramping NZ 2024 calendars—the perfect gift for both young, and has-been, trampers and their friends.

    • #79807 Reply

      If you come across a wilding pine in Tongariro National Park, or anywhere else for that matter, pull the damn thing out, completely by the roots. Make sure you get all the roots, and leave the tree with its roots in the air to die. And if it is in an area where you haven’t seen them before, inform DOC. They are an extremely nasty invasive species which spread like wildfire, as you know perfectly damn well. To hell any absurd notions of them having rights or anything. I’m actually extremely depressed to learn that they are now apparently present on the northern side of Ruapehu.

      Decades ago (as in 30 or 40 years) the club used to run an annual weekend in association with DOC pulling out wilding pines on the southern flank of Ruapehu, up above the Desert Road. For some reason these died out, but I’ve long thought we should resurrect them – I’m pretty sure other clubs still do them. They were always a good social weekend as well as being a way of doing something good for the environment.

    • #79812 Reply
      Tony G

      Hello Harry

      You are correct – it has to go. The bit about the tree’s ‘rights’ was just to get a reaction.
      But unfortunately it is way too big to pull out – it’s also too sturdy to even break. But don’t worry – it’s days are numbered. There is already a return trip planned and a saw will be included in the party gear.

      And it does seem to be a lonely individual – no others have been spied on the northern slopes. But it’s remarkable that a seed travelled so far from whatever plantation to get to where it is.


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