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New Zealand’s High Commissioner visits Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst

Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, the New Zealand High Commissioner, visited the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, to discuss how working together could help save New Zealand’s native trees.
Release date: 
17 October 2018

The Commissioner was welcomed to Wakehurst, part of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by its Director, Tony Sweeney and given a tour by the seed bank’s building manager, Keith Manger.

Tony said the visit was extremely relaxed and helpful to both parties. He said: “Some very beneficial conversations were had between our scientists and Sir Jerry and we hope to work collaboratively to help Aotearoa New Zealand in its quest to conserve its native tree seeds.”

Sir Jerry met visiting Māori tribal representatives Kimmy Ranginui and Waipaina Awarau-Morris who attended this year’s Seed Conservation Techniques course at the MSB.

Sir Jerry said, “I am impressed with the work that Dr Ruth Bone has been doing both in the UK and especially in New Zealand and I look forward to seeing how the opportunity that Kimmy and Waipaina have blossoms!”

Kimmy and Waipaina are developing native tree seed conservation programmes within their communities, driven by their concerns about the rapid spread of Myrtle Rust. This fungal pathogen was first documented in Aotearoa New Zealand last year and threatens native Myrtles, including culturally significant and economically important plant species such as Pōhutukawa (the New Zealand Christmas Tree) and Mānuka, the nectar source of Mānuka honey.  

The MSB Partnership, the largest wild seed conservation project in the world, has collaborated with Māori communities with support from Te Tira Whakamātaki (Māori Biosecurity Network) since 2016, to support development of long-term seed conservation strategies for wild species.  

Photo captions

Top photo from left to right:  Kimmy Ranginui (Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui), Ed Ikin (Head of Landscape and Horticulture), Tony Sweeney (Director of Wakehurst), Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae (the New Zealand High Commissioner), Keith Manger (Millennium Seed Bank building manager), Waipaina Awarau-Morris (Te Poho te Huturangi) and Dr Ruth Bone Bone (MSB International Projects Officer - Pacific).

Second photo (see images below) from left to right: Kimmy Ranginui, Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, the New Zealand High Commissioner and Waipaina Awarau-Morris. 

Third photo (see images below):  Keith Manager, Millennium Seed Bank buildings manager, shows the Commissioner around the cryopreservation laboratory.

For more information contact Sandra Howard, Communications and Content Manager on 01444 894336 / 07753 938682

Notes to Editors:-

Wakehurst, Kew's Wild Botanic Garden in the Sussex High Weald, is one of the most beautiful and significant botanic gardens in the country. It is home to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, which houses and protects seed from the world’s most substantial and diverse collection of threatened and useful wild plants, and leads the MSB Partnership, a crucially important global science-based conservation programme which is the largest of its kind in the world. The estate includes a contemporary botanic garden, where ornamental plantings and exotic tree and shrub collections of international importance sit within native woodland. Wakehurst’s natural assets associated with its countryside location renders it complementary to Kew’s West London site, with different growing conditions, and a real emphasis on wild plant collections. Coupled with the Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst offers an inspiring, immersive, and educational day out for the whole family, and serves as a vital contribution to UK and global plant conservation.

Kew receives just under half of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

Please note that Wakehurst is referred to just as Wakehurst, not Wakehurst Place. It is not a National Trust property and has been managed and financed by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since 1965.

An adult ticket is £12.95. Children 16 and under are Free.

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New Zealand High Commissioner with Wakehurst staff

Millennium Seed Bank buildings manager and NZ High Commissioner