Gallipoli Pine Planting on campus – a reflection

UC marked the Anzac Day centenary with the planting of a seedling from the original Gallipoli Lone Pine. Chancellor Dr John Wood CNZM QSO (below right), planted the Gallipoli Pine seedling to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Anzac Day after the University’s Anzac Service hosted by the UCSA on Monday 25 April.

Alan and Chancellor2

 Alan Leckie, above left,  gave the following speech before the planting.

Kia ora koutou

My name is Alan Leckie and Scion, my employer has gifted this tree to the University of Canterbury. Scion, once known as the New Zealand Forest Research Institute, has been on campus since 1976.

A pine cone was collected from the Lone Pine on the Gallipoli Peninsula by Sgt Keith McDowell of The Australian Army in 1915. This tree is Pinus brutia, or Turkish Red Pine and now has another common name – The Gallipoli Pine. It is a common tree that is native to Greece through to Iran/Pakistan. Seeds from the original tree were planted in Victoria, Australia and a cone was brought back to NZ from Australia and seeds were planted in Paeroa where this tree was propagated from. Scion has gifted about 50 trees to New Zealand and today on the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day, these trees will become the most important trees in our history in terms of remembrance & nationhood every Anzac Day.

Memorials are very important to society because they continually refresh our memories.

This memorial tree honours all those women and men who left our shores and it specifically honours women and men from this university.

Over the 18 months I have been involved with these trees I have made a new friend in Turkey. Prof Melih Boydak and I have been discussing where NZ and Turkey fit together in today’s world. We both agree that we are now close friends; 100 years ago on this day, however, we were not and Melih has asked that I quote a statement of the great Turkish leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

Wars and conflict affect the world, affect nations, wreak havoc on the environment, our culture and society, disrupt commerce & economics and heavily impact on families and individual people

My parents collectively set aside 18 years between 1939 and 1947. My father as a soldier in Z Special Unit in NZ, Aust, Borneo & in J Force in Japan and my mother in the diplomatic corp in Ottawa, then to the Canadian embassies in Washington & Tokyo. They were lost years in their lives, but they gave unselfishly for the benefit of us all just as the students and staff of the University of Canterbury did who we honour today with this tree.

This tree personally for me is very important and I will always visit it. It gives me a memory. I trust it will provide the same for the University of Canterbury as you remember Anzac Day every April the 25th.

Noho ora mai ra

Alan Leckie