“Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.” J. Sterling Morton

For those of you that may not know, last week New Zealand Celebrated Arbor Day (June 5th). Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives whilst simultaneously promoting tree planting and care. First observed in 1872, tree planting festivals are actually as old as civilization itself.

Whilst we have already passed this day, we thought it was a great opportunity to sit down and tell you about the history of Arbor Day and why we love it (and trees) so much!

Global History of Arbor Day

The first American Arbor Day was originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, U.S., by J. Sterling Morton. On April 10, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska.

Sterling Morton and his wife, Caroline were lovers of nature and after moving to Nebraska from Detroit, they missed their trees and quickly planted shrubs, trees and flowers in their newly established home in Nebraska. Morton was a journalist and soon became editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper. Given that forum, he spread agricultural information and his enthusiasm for trees to a captivated audience. From this throughout the world, people of all ages are planting trees, caring for them and learning their value.

New Zealand History of Arbor Day

New Zealand’s 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. Whilst many countries celebrate this in the spring, we acknowledge it in Autumn as that is the best time for us to plant trees.

Since 1977, New Zealand has celebrated Arbor Day on June 5, which is also World Environment Day. Previously, Arbor Day was celebrated on August 4, however this is rather late in the year for tree planting in New Zealand hence why it was changed to early in June.

Keeping Arbor Day Relevant

We’ve noticed that Arbor Day seems to be a day that has dropped off New Zealand’s Annual Calendar, and it is so important for us to bring it back! Arbor Day is about creating a future for generations to come and creating new life.

We know it has been and gone this year but we encourage all of our readers to get involved with Arbor Day and promote it to their communities so we can get budding green thumbs all around the country, and maybe even a few more arborists to add to our wonderful team. And whilst Arbor Day is a great day of recognition, any time is a good time to care for the environment and take some time to appreciate how much we can benefit from trees and good planting!