Brad Pillans, Director, National Rock Garden

Published in the National Rock Garden Newsletter No. 27, May 2024

The three large rocks placed outside the entrance to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, in Wellington, are very striking and similar in size to rocks displayed in the National Rock Garden in Canberra (see below). Two of the rocks are andesite boulders, said to have been erupted some 75,000 years ago from Mount Taranaki (Taranaki Maunga, formerly known as Mount Egmont) in the western North Island. Since Wellington and Canberra are sister cities, a similar rock from Taranaki Maunga would be very appropriate for the NRG. Also, the North Island of New Zealand is part of the Australian tectonic plate, so geologically speaking a rock from Taranaki Maunga is an ‘Australian’ rock. Indeed, Kiwis often refer to Australia as the ‘West Island’, indicating that they accept the idea of geological unity.

Three large rocks placed at the entrance to Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington. The two rocks on the right are from Taranaki Maunga. Image courtesy B. Pillans.

In February 2024, my wife, Sue, and I travelled to New Zealand to investigate the feasibility of bringing a rock from Taranaki Maunga to the NRG. As a first step, we visited the quarry from which the Te Papa rocks were obtained, and the owners of the quarry agreed to donate a rock to the NRG. We also discussed the proposal with local Māori representatives who were very supportive. More on this developing story in the next NRG newsletter.

Taranaki Maunga (2,519 m), a dormant andesite stratovolcano, western North Island, New Zealand. Image courtesy B. Pillans.