New signs acknowledge New Zealand's first arboretum 31 October 2014 New Zealand's oldest arboretum (curated botanical garden devoted to trees) received its most visible acknowledgement today with new signs installed renaming the former Thames William Hall Reserve as William Hall Arboretum. (Pictured L-R, back row: Forest and Bird's Ken Clark and Malcolm Sowman, and TCDC's Parks Officer Chris Muller. Front row: Students William Park and Isaac Heron, Forest and Bird's Beverly Woods, and students Ingrid Hurle and Natasha Shand. Download a 5MB high resolution picture here.) William Hall Arboretum has an incredible collection of nationally and internationally significant trees grown from seedlings in the early 1870s by Thames pharmacist and botanist William Hall, including the separate Totara species know as Hall’s Totara, named in his honour. Students from Hauraki Plains College were also on site today for a working bee as part of their Environment Day studies, joining representatives of Forest and Bird and Thames-Coromandel District Council's new Parks Officer and arborist Chris Muller. Forest and Bird have had a close association with Council and William Hall Arboretum over the years and have contributed admirably via fundraising for projects in the park. Most recently they donated $16,000 to help carry out tree work when a listed pohutukawa was damaged. At that time, our new parks officer, arborist Chris Muller, wrote the tree report as a consultant arborist that helped Forest and Bird fundraise for the $16,000. "It is satisfying to see the community is recognising the importance of our pioneer botanist, William Hall," says Forest and Bird Thames-Hauraki spokesperson Ken Clark. You can get to the William Hall Arboretum by driving to the top of Mount Sea Road in Thames. (There are three other entrances: Curies St, Brunton Cres and Korokoro Cres. Just look for the new signs.) Introducing Chris Muller Our new Parks Officer Chris Muller steps into the shoes vacated by Community Field Representative Chris Howell, and works with our Parks Manager Derek Thompson. After starting out in Whakatane in the 90s followed by time at Uni, Chris went to Christchurch to work on re-vegetating streams using native plants to collect sediment and filter the water naturally on its journey from the mountains to the sea. In 2000, Chris, his wife, and their baby daughter, moved to Paikakariki where Chris worked as a Park Ranger for Wellington Regional Council. During this time Chris specialised in wetland establishment and coastal dune rehabilitation with intense community involvement. Chris also worked with Ngati Haumia, Nga Uru Ora and Forest and Bird on many projects for Queen Elizabeth Park. As Chris' family grew, so did his experience, working for Auckland Regional Council, setting up a lifestyle block in Katikati and taking time away from local government to spend time with his family - which now includes three daughters - and becoming a qualified arborist. Most recently, Chris was the Contract Manager for Smart Environmental Ltd in Tauranga. Chris says the best advice he's ever been given is "life has no remote, get up and change it yourself." Chris looks forward to meeting and working with passionate people in the Coromandel and making a difference to the lives of those who love and use the Coromandel's extraordinary parks.