Scion: a trip down memory lane and some questions about terminology

Maori terms used at the institute need some investigation,

Sat 11 Feb 23


A recent New Zealand publication noted that a new photography exhibition is taking visitors to Te Whare Nui o Tuteata on a trip down memory lane of 75 years of research and innovation at Scion, Rotorua.

That fired up a few in situ memory cells.

Scion, a Crown research institute, is a government-owned company that carries out scientific research for the NZ forestry sector. It was established in 1992 on sturdy foundations laid in 1947 by the NZ Forest Research Institute. 

There is a Queensland connection.

The operational move from slash pine (Pinus elliottiI) to Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var hondurensis) as the principal plantation species for Queensland Forestry in the 1970s was predicated on raising conditioned open-root planting stock that could survive transplanting shock. The mechanised nursery techniques utilised were first established at NZ FRI Rotorua by Dr David Rook, plant physiologist, and Jaap Van Dorssea, head nursery manager.

However, the Maori terms now used at Scion needed further investigation.

Scion’s striking new three-storey building is named ‘Te Whare Nui o Tuteata’ which means the great house of Tuteata. Tuteata is the ancestor of the three hapū who are the tangata whenua here: Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Te Kahu.

The name was gifted to Scion to acknowledge Tuteata and the connection to the land, Te Mingi. Ngāti Whakaue is the local iwi (tribe) on which Scion’s Rotorua campus and Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park are set against the magnificent backdrop of Whakarewarewa Forest (once known as ‘The Redwoods’).

Clear? There’s more.

New Zealand’s national science challenges include:

• Science for technological innovation. Kia kotahi mai – te ao pūtaiao me te ao hangarau.

•  Building better homes, towns and cities. Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhorahora.

• New Zealand’s biological heritage. Ngā koiora tuku iho.

• Our land and water. Toitū te whenua, toi ora te wai.

• Resilience to nature’s challenges. Kia manawaroa – ngā ākina o te ao tūroa.

• The deep south. Te kōmata o te tonga.

Most old-growth foresters I know would be hard-pressed to meet an exit challenge to learn new terminology for communication in the art and science of our profession.


  • Dr Gary Bacon

    Dr Gary Bacon, AM, BSc (For) Hon, PhD, FIFA, respected professional forester. Adjunct Professor at Griffith University and former CEO Queensland Forestry.


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