'Stanley the rata' symbol of hope

25 September 2017
The Bartlett's rata, now named 'Stanley', will hopefully flourish in the Business School garden, behind the Owen G. Glenn Building.

‘He iti te kōpara ka rērere i te puhi o te kahikatea’. Although the bellbird is small, it can reach the crown of the kahikatea.

An endangered New Zealand tree has found a new home in the University’s Business School garden after a small blessing ceremony on Friday.

The Bartlett’s rata, Metrosideros bartlettii, will have beautiful white flowers which will attract birds and bees, is likely to grow to a great height and could live for 1000 years.

Its natural home is in the far north of the North Island at Te Paki, but due to a range of factors, only 25 adult trees are known to exist in the wild, with most of these either ill or dying.

Commitment to biodiversity

The idea to plant a special tree came after Business School group services coordinator Dinah Towle decided that as this year’s Asia Savvy conference was focused on sustainability, a tree would be a gesture of commitment to the environment and biodiversity.

However she wasn’t sure which variety to choose.

“So I asked our knowledgeable head groundsman Stanley Jones what he would recommend and he suggested the Bartlett’s rata, because of its endangered status, its longevity and its attractiveness to bees and birds,” says Dinah.

In his honour, the tree is now called ‘Stanley’.

The blessing on Friday was presided over the Business School’s Associate Professor Manuka Henare and kaumatua Rereata Makiha, who is known for his special karakia relating to the natural world.

Small but special

Professor Natasha Hamilton-Hart encapsulated the gesture of doing something small but making a difference by quoting a Māori proverb:

 ‘He iti te kōpara ka rērere i te puhi o te kahikatea’. (Although the bellbird is small, it can reach the crown of the kahikatea).

Professor Hamilton-Hart added the last few spadefuls of soil to ‘Stanley’ on the Saturday of the conference, helped by a few member of the student committee and overseen by around 100 Business School students.