Monday, November 28, 2011

Thames (NZ) - 'The First Time:' Arbor Day

"Arbor Day (from the Latin arbor, meaning tree) is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States during 1872 by J. Sterling Morton. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872, and an estimated 1 million trees were planted that day." Wikipedia

In New Zealand the, "first Arbor Day planting was on 3 July 1890 at Greytown, in the Wairarapa. The first official celebration took place in Wellington in August 1892, with the planting of pohutukawa and Norfolk pines along Thorndon Esplanade."

In the Thames Star 23/7/1892, the council discussion on Arbor Day was reported. All public offices were to have a holiday on 4th August 1892, in order to encourage the planting of trees. They hoped to show the colonists how important the care of the forests was, so many had been destroyed in the settlement of the country. The council felt this would just be used as a holiday.

On the morning of 4th August 1892, Thames held its first Arbor Day tree planting at Rocky Point, Tararu.
Mrs Wm WOOD planted an english oak, in total about 50 were planted.
Various trees were planted along the road, by the group that had assembled (click here for full report)

In subsequent years, there was ongoing debate and varying degrees of observation of Arbor Day in Thames.
On 7/8/1895, trees were planted at the Old Mens' Home at Tararu.

The 21/7/1909, was recorded in the Thames Star as the first proper celebration of Arbor day in Thames. The success coming from the involvement of Government and the Education Board. The tree planting was based at the schools around the town; hoping to share with the children the importance of the protection of trees. Trees were also planted in other areas, including microcapa on the hills. It was deemed they were most appropriate to withstand the attention of the many goats, that roamed the hills!

PS. My GGGGGrandmother was no doubt to blame for some of those goats. Susan TIMMINS, formerly Moran nee McDougal, an early resident of Thames, and often on the wrong side of the law; was otherwise known as "Goaty" as she tended the goats that roamed on the hills.

Top: Thames Star 4/8/1892
Bottom: Postcard showing vicinity of first Arbor Day tree planting
Below: Thames Star 21/7/1909

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