NZ indigenous forestry researcher farewelled

Friday 28 Apr 2023

Like a mighty tōtara tree that stands tall and strong, Greg Steward has been celebrated for his resilience, endurance and passion for advancing New Zealand’s knowledge of indigenous forestry over nearly five decades.

The Scion scientist, who is the first to admit he failed science and left school at 16, was farewelled by dozens of current and former colleagues at a special function at Te Whare Nui o Tuteata this month to mark his retirement - 49 years after joining the New Zealand Forest Service as a trainee woodsman. During the event many people paid tribute to Greg’s unrivalled expertise that saw him carve out an extraordinary research career that focused on managing kauri, tōtara and indigenous hardwoods in plantations.

The turnout reflected the standing in which Steward is held as Scion’s and possibly New Zealand’s longest serving indigenous forestry researcher. His legacy will be built on through the work of other scientists who are now ‘picking up the baton’ and championing the value of indigenous trees for their economic potential and special timber qualities.

But despite entering retirement, Steward’s expertise won’t be lost after he has agreed to serve as an Emeritus scientist – a mentoring role that enables him to keep sharing his considerable knowledge. Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder made the announcement at his farewell to a round of delighted applause.

“We’re so pleased that Greg will be joining our growing cadre of Emeritus researchers who, while officially in a new phase of their lives, continue to serve our science community,” he said. During the farewell, people shared fond recollections of working with Steward in the field and stories of how his research had changed the way that people view indigenous forestry in New Zealand.

“Through Greg’s research, we’ve been able to appreciate indigenous trees for reasons other than conservation; to make that difference is amazing,” said principal scientist Dr Brian Richardson. “It’s remarkable to see how that has benefited our organisation, New Zealand forestry and society.”

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Source: Scion

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