Trees as war memorials

Trees as war memorials

Not all war memorials are monumental or made from marble. While I was reading Ann Beaglehole’s Eastbourne: A History of the Eastern Bays of Wellington Harbour, I discovered details of trees planted by the community to remember World War One (WWI) and those who lost their lives.

In July 1916 two pohutukawa trees were planted on the corner of Oroua and Rata Streets to mark the landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli. The one tree that survived became known as Eastbourne’s Anzac Memorial Tree, and is regarded as the oldest Gallipoli memorial in New Zealand.

Eastbourne Anzac Memorial Tree 

Eastbourne’s Anzac Memorial Tree on the corner of Rata and Oroua Streets. Photograph by Michael Fitzgerald, 13 April 2008.

Two other memorial trees – kauri – were planted in private gardens in nearby Nikau Street, to mark the deaths of local men. One was for Second Lieutenant Harry Oswald Furlong Marsden, killed in action in October 1917 during the Battle of Broodsiende, in Belgium, part of the Passchendaele offensive.

The other memorial kauri tree was planted for Sergeant Hubert Earle Girdlestone. He lost his life in August 1918 during the Battle of Bapaume, in France. The battle was part of the successful initiative that broke through the German trench system.

If anyone has photos of these memorial trees, we’d love you to add them to our WWI memorial project at:

EDIT: This project is now closed.


  1. I shall be organised one day this week for the names of Greytown’s War Memorial. also would think Masterton Archives would have knowledge of who is on the gates, I shall also ask the Chairman of Cobblestones Museum in Greytown this morning about it, as asked him yesterday for WW1 army camp at Papawai, nothing in the Museum about that, so more work for me to do and hand over!!! Adele

    1. Hi Adele I also wonder if there is anything in the newspapers that would come up in a search on ‘Papers Past’ about the trees?

      And I had the belated and bright idea of checking this website for the memorial:

      (I hope it will work as a link) which shows all the names on the memorial. This will save you some tame! Kirstie

      —–Original Message—–

  2. GREYTOWN SOLDIERS.. sadly couldnt find even one soldiers name on any of the trees in the park yesterday, but, later today, will list the names on the gates.. WW1 soldiers, took photographs of this as well..

    1. Never mind – thanks for looking. Look forward to seeing the list of names. Do you know if there anything in the Wairarapa Archive about the memorial? Kirstie

  3. Will be checking the Greytown trees out, doubt if names are on each tree… there are memorial gates to the park with names on…. Adele

    1. Hi Adele Thanks for looing at the trees – but it would be great to know the names on the memorial gates. Kirstie

  4. Soldier’s Memorial.. Greytown. South Wairarapa, This beautiful park was once part of the 40 acre farm block bought by Hugh O”Connor in 1856. In 1920 the local Greytown Community raised and dedicated a Memorial to those who fought and died in the First World War. The 57 Lime Trees (Tilia eurpaea) were planted to commorate the servicemen who died. Taken from Heritage Tree Trail of Historic Greytown.

    1. Hi Adele Thanks very much for this information. Are names of servicemen attached to the trees and were families of the deceased involved in the memorial – eg planting? This is what happened with the memorial avenue of trees planted in North Otago after the war. Here is a reference to an article about these trees which may be of interest:

      Eric Pawson, ‘The memorial oaks of North Otago: A commemorative landscape’, in G. Kearsley and B. Fitzharris, eds, Glimpses of a Gaian World. Essays in Honour of Peter Holland, University of Otago, 2004, pp. 115-31.


  5. not sure, but will have to check with Masterton Archives, Norman Avenue some one said the trees there were a memorial as well.. oak trees.. just off SH2 north of Clareville.

  6. There is a TREE lined road near Gladstone. Wairarapa in memory of soldiers. Also I believe some at nearby Greytown..

    1. Hi there Thanks for this useful information. Kirstie

  7. Hi Claire
    Yes they do – Anzac Ave is beautiful to walk or drive down.
    It would be great if you could take some photos of (either of) these and post them onto the World War One Memorials Project on flickr – see above to click directly through to it.

  8. Oamaru has memorial oaks ( I think) planted along the southern entry to the town, and Dunedin’s Anzac Ave has memorial trees as well.

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