[Gisborne, New Zealand – May 9, 2024]

Eastwoodhill Arboretum is a safe haven of rare and endangered trees, and a living seed bank for the rest of the world. We are charged with the care of many endangered species, some of which are extinct in the wild, with some that are “one of a kind” in the country.

We are seriously disappointed by theft of propagation material, by a member of the public, who took it upon themselves to steal said material from one our endangered species, which happens to be the only one of its kind in the country. This reprehensible act not only undermines the conservation efforts of the Arboretum but also jeopardises the future of these critically important species.

The theft of this precious propagation material that was our Sorbopyrus Auricularis, the only known tree of its kind in New Zealand.

Jane Williams, Chair of Eastwoodhill Arboretum Trust Board, expressed deep concern over the incident, stating, “The theft of these plant cuttings is not only a criminal act but an assault on the very essence of biodiversity conservation. Each of our species represents a unique thread in the intricate tapestry of our planet’s natural heritage, and their loss would be immeasurable.”

Lead Horticulturist and Team Leader, Anthea Dalton, is extremely concerned that this theft has huge biosecurity risks for the overall collection, “Without the proper controls and measures in place, there is a massive risk to our collection.  We have no way of monitoring the introduction of pest, and or disease, especially when there are no protocols that have been adhered to.”

“We follow strict legislation when it comes to our cuttings, including the appropriate permissions prior to the cut, the on-going benefit of such cut including propagating for arboretum purposes and that our/the collection is appropriately curated afterwards”.

“If the individual had reached out prior to their visit, and worked with us on getting the cutting, we would have ensured that all of our protocols were followed and that an on-going, mutually beneficial agreement was in place, as we have in the past allowed such cuttings and believe the sharing of plant material and knowledge is in the best interest of everyone involved.”

In the wake of this unfortunate event, Eastwoodhill are stepping up our protocols and measures around the collection of material, including processes around how our visitors sign in to site. Eastwoodhill Arboretum remains steadfast in its commitment to the conservation and preservation of endangered tree species. The Arboretum calls upon the community to join in its efforts to safeguard these invaluable treasures for future generations.

For further information or media enquiries, please contact:

Garrett Blair

General Manager