The immense legacy of environmental champions and philanthropists Bunny and John Mortimer was recognised today (Tuesday 8 December) with the awarding of the Hamilton Kirikiriroa Medal.
The Mortimers founded Taitua Arboretum in 1972 on their property west of Hamilton, and spent years collecting and planting more than 1,500 types of seeds and cuttings from New Zealand, China, America and Australia.
The 20-hectare block was gifted to the city in 1997 to ensure it would be cared for and enjoyed by future generations and was formally opened to the public for visits in 2004.
Bunny (Margaret) was presented her medal today at a ceremony supported by her family. John’s award was made posthumously as he passed away in 2018.
The Hamilton Kirikiriroa Medal, the city’s second-highest civic honour, honours the significant achievement of Hamiltonians who have been highly successful in their chosen field and have raised the profile of the city.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate says Bunny Mortimer and her husband John’s desire to share nature with others long past their own lifetimes will influence the Waikato forever
“Taitua Arboretum will always be the Mortimer’s legacy and part of Hamilton’s history. Today we acknowledged and thanked Bunny and John for their passion and dedication to create a space which will be enjoyed by generations to come,” says Mayor Southgate.
“Our city is incredibly lucky to have selfless people like Bunny and John who have given so much. I feel humbled by their contribution and I know all Hamiltonians are incredibly grateful.”
In 1995 the couple received a Civic Award for services to the environment. In the same year, they each received a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for their services to the public.
“It was John’s idea to give Taitua to the city,” Bunny Mortimer said. “It had the whole-hearted backing of the family and me. This is a huge honour for both of us.”
Every year more than 100,000 visitors enjoy Taitua Arboretum’s selection of native, exotic and sometimes rare trees and shrubs, open pasture, lakes, woodland gardens and accompanying bird life.