Hugh Wilson (New Zealand botanist)

Hugh Dale Wilson (born 1945) is a New Zealand botanist. He has written and illustrated a number of books about New Zealand plants, and manages Hinewai Reserve on Banks Peninsula.

Hugh Wilson
Hugh Wilson in 2017
Born23 February 1945
Timaru, New Zealand
CitizenshipNew Zealand
Alma materUniversity of Canterbury
Scientific career

Early life

Wilson was born in Timaru, and brought up in Christchurch by parents keen on the outdoors and camping; he attribute his love for birds to a family holiday to Stewart Island.[1] He went to Elmwood District (later Normal) School, where he began drawing birds at an early age. Planting New Zealand native plants in his backyard to attract birds sparked his interest in botany.[1] At St Andrews College he was Dux in 1962. He taught for Voluntary Service Overseas, the British scheme on which Volunteer Service Abroad was later to be based, in Sarawak on Borneo. After attending the University of Canterbury, he studied the botany of Stewart Island / Rakiura, and then the Aoraki / Mount Cook region, for several years. This was followed by a botanical survey of Banks Peninsula.[2] He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Lincoln University in 2019.[citation needed]

Banks Peninsula PNAP

The Department of Lands and Survey had a programme, known as the Protected Natural Areas Programme (PNAP), of identifying and protecting examples of plant life, animals, ecosystems and landscape features that make New Zealand unique. The PNAP was established in 1983, and the country was divided into 268 ecological districts, grouped into 85 ecological regions. Banks Peninsula was one of those regions, with Port Hills, Herbert and Akaroa making up its three districts.[3]

Wilson started fieldwork on Banks Peninsula and Kaitorete Spit in September 1983. He established a 1000-yard grid-point system and surveyed a 6 m x 6 m sample plot at each site. That way, 1331 plots were surveyed over a five-year period. While the work had been supported by the Koiata Botanical Trust, DOC realised that it was directly relevant to their aims, and asked Wilson to write the Banks Peninsula PNAP report. The report was the 21st in the series and published in 1992.[4]

Hinewai Reserve

Hinewai Reserve is a private nature reserve on Banks Peninsula. It started off as a 109 ha block of farmland bought by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust in September 1987 and is now 1230 ha of gorse and regenerating native bush.[5] Wilson identified the land as suitable for the trust's aims during his PNAP work. He has been managing the reserve since its purchase.

In popular culture

Painting of Wilson in Christchurch's Re:START mall

Wilson is featured in the film Earth Whisperers/Papatuanuku.[6]

In 2010, Wilson was interviewed for the feature-length documentary film Queen of the Sun.[7]

In 2019, Wilson was the subject for the short documentary film "Fools and Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest".[8][9]

Selected bibliography

  • The year of the hornbill : a volunteer’s service in Sarawak (1966)
  • Wildflowers of New Zealand (1974)
  • Vegetation of Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand (1976) ISBN 0-477-06100-1
  • Wild plants of Mount Cook National Park : field guide (1978, 1996).
  • Field guide : Stewart Island Plants (1982, 1994) ISBN 0-9583299-0-7
  • Banks Peninsula Track : a guide to the route, natural features and human history (2008, 10th edition)
  • Banks ecological region : Port Hills, Herbert and Akaroa ecological districts (c1992) ISBN 0-478-01394-9
  • Small-leaved shrubs of New Zealand (1993) ISBN 0-473-01851-9
  • Naturalised vascular plants on Banks Peninsula (1999) ISBN 0-473-05826-X
  • Hinewai : the journal of a New Zealand naturalist (2002) ISBN 1-877251-20-8
  • Food for tūī on Banks Peninsula : a botanical assessment (2007) ISBN 0-478-22677-2
  • Natural History of Banks Peninsula (2009) ISBN 978-1-877257-82-7
  • Plant Life on Banks Peninsula (2013) ISBN 978-0-9583299-6-5


  1. Newton, Penny (October–November 2020). "For the Love of the Land". Latitude. 073: 22–27.
  2. Wilson 2002, p. 1.
  3. Wilson 2002, p. 7.
  4. Wilson 2002, pp. 7ff.
  5. Cronshaw, Tim (22 August 2008). "Return of the Natives". The Press.
  6. Gallagher, Kathleen. "Earth Whisperers/Papatuanuku". WickCandle Film. Archived from the original on 24 May 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  7. "Hugh Wilson". Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  8. "Fools and Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest". Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  9. Hayward, Michael (28 June 2019). "From gorse-infested pasture to lush native bush: documentary tells the story of Hinewai Reserve". Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  10. IPNI.  H.D.Wilson.


  • Wilson, Hugh D. (2002). Hinewai : the journal of a New Zealand naturalist. Christchurch: Shoal Bay Press Ltd. ISBN 1-877251-20-8.
  • Wilson, Hugh (2009). Natural History of Banks Peninsula. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press. ISBN 978-1-877257-82-7.