Arbor code on line - 8th Nov 2012

Eighteen long years after the first edition and twelve years after the review began the NZ Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Arboriculture has been released

The Hon. Kate Wilkinson - Minister of Labour ‘This Approved Code of Practice has been developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in partnership with
industry representatives and other agencies. It is focused on improving safety practices and reducing workplace accidents in the industry’

Down load the code free from:

A TRoQ update (Horticulture) - 16th Oct 2012

As previously noted Thoughtplanters Academic Manager, Mark Roberts is part of a team working on the Horticulture ‘Targeted Review of Qualifications’ (TRoQ).

TRoQ is a Ministerial requirement to simplify all of the existing qualifications on the NZ Qualifications Framework (NZQF) and replace them with a reduced number of New Zealand Qualifications.  The governance and working groups have been working on a needs analysis and a qualifications map. Yesterday (October 15) the three working groups met in Wellington to focus and consolidate the work that they have been doing before sending it out for wider consultation.

A draft combined plan will be sent out shortly as part of the consultation process. The draft plan will be made available for comment until November 16.  If you would like to be send the consultation document or have a say in the review please contact Mark < > 

To give you some idea what the new horticultural qualifications framework may look like, below is what the 'Hort Services' work group has proposed.  Hort Services includes; Amenity, Arboriculture, Landscaping, Sports Turf, Nursery and Floristry. 


A rough guideline proposed by 'Hort Services' work group (Oct 15)

  • A generic Level One NZ Certificate - an introduction to the horticulture industry
  • A generic Level Two NZ Certificate - (pre employment) focusing on health and safety, work skills with focus towards certain sectors within the industry
  • A Stranded Level Three NZ Certificate - focusing on core horticulture knowledge but with strands (a percentage) of the qualification targeted at specific skills and requirements of a named industry sector
  • A Specific Level Four NZ Certificate - focusing on specific skills and requirements of a named industry sector
  • A generic Level Five NZ Certificate or Diploma - focusing on horticultural management skills
  • A Specific Level Six NZ Diploma - focusing on specific skills and requirements within an aspect of a named industry sector

Subject: ACOP Part1 - 10th Oct 2012

Begin forwarded message:

From: Rick Mexted
Subject: ACOP part1
Date: 10 October 2012 9:54:27 AM NZDT

Good morning

I have the pleasure in letting you all know that the ACOP part 1 (Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Tree Work. Part One: Arboriculture) has now been signed off by the minister and will be gazetted for a month on the 11 October 2012 where it will be out for public use on the 11 November 2012. DOL are looking at the cost of reprinting the code in the small A5 books for resale but until they sort this out it will be available on the DOL website for downloading in November.

As we all thought Armageddon would come before this happened it is a great achievement for all that have been apart of this from the early days.


Rick Mexted | Training and Development Manager | Asplundh

Release of the 2013 BPG for Arboricultural - 26th Sep 2012

The 2013 Best Practice Guidelines Safety Requirements for New Zealand Arboricultural Operations

Industry approval to produce a Best Practice Guideline (BPG) for Arboriculture was given at the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the New Zealand Arboricultural Association.

The original BPG document was based on the 1994 Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Tree Work Part One: Arboriculture, and all subsequent review material through to and including the 2010 review. The 2013 document will be the 4th NZ BPG for Arboriculture.

The document is freely available for downloading via the New Zealand Arboricultural Association (NZAA) web site or you can click here for a copy

The BPG is reviewed and updated annually. Submissions and comments received by the 1st of May each year will be reviewed by the NZAA’s Education and Training Committee and if accepted will be incorporated into the followings years document.

If you would like to make a comment about the content of the document, or would like to make a suggestion regarding best practice in New Zealand Arboriculture please make them in writing to;

The New Zealand Arboricultural Association
P.O. Box 5596, Wellesley Street
Auckland 1141
New Zealand

Or via email on:

Submissions should be headed; Submissions to the Best Practice Guideline and include your name and contact details. Please use the section numbers to identify where your submission relates to or where your submission should be included.

Room for improvement - 3rd Sep 2012

Leith Thomson - one of the few to successfully complete the aerial rescue event on Saturday
Richard Tregoweth on his Treetools blog (Saturday, September 01, 2012) commented; 'the judging team at the aerial rescue event at the South Island National Tree Climbing Competition were less than comforted by the skills on demonstration'.

Being able to rescue an injured climber from a tree is a fundamental requirement – a core skill of every climbing arborist. There is no excuse for not being able to do this safely and efficiently.

Tim Lovejoy and Mat Palmer (the judging team) need to be commend for expressing their concerns on Saturday, but the issue is not just confined to the South Island of New Zealand. My recent experience in the North Island suggest aerial rescue training isn’t part of the corporate curriculum there – 'time pressures don’t allow it'.   Through our international work and involvement, I know that this failing is common throughout most of the world.

It should be noted that Tim and Mat were not just commenting about the skills needed for competing in an aerial rescue competition, but the skills needed for being a climbing arborist. 'Everyone needs to have a simple plan and be able to execute it', fundamental things like;

  • Always knowing where you are (how can you get help to come to you if you don’t know where you are?)
  • Knowing how to assess the victim, the victim’s equipment and the tree they are in
  • Being able to get up to the victim, secure them to you then lower them down (without causing additional harm to the victim)
  • Knowing what to do with the victim once you have them on the ground

There are those that say Tree Climbing Competitions (like the ITCC events through the International Society of Arboriculture) no longer reflect reality.  They say that these are just show-pony events highlighting techniques and equipment that the overwhelming majority of the real world don’t and / or will never have. There may or may not be truth is this, but if ITCC events can highlight areas of concern within the industry and demonstrate techniques that could address those concerns then I believe they have their place.

I encourage every climbing arborist to practice and improve their aerial rescue skills and if at all possible, to attend Tree Climbing Competitions – who knows, the skills you pick up could save a life.

- Mark Roberts -

The most successful tree climbing team in history - 6th Aug 2012

Tree climbing Legend and 2012 Asia-Pacific TCC champion James Kilpatrick sporting the Rakau NZ TCC shirt during a quick training session on Mt Eden yesterday afternoon, just before his flight out to Portland
Source: Richard Tregoweth, Treetools
Monday, August 06, 2012

International interest in The Scott Forrest Legends Foundation

As the highest profile, most successful, independent tree climbing team in the history of the sport its little wonder international brand owners are showing a great deal of interest in The Scott Forrest Legends Foundation.

A number of multi-national companies have already approached the Legends Foundation with a view to coming on-board as supporters. Treetools believe the Legends Committee is favoring the idea of a 'product' relationship rather than commitment to the manufacturers brand, not unlike the deal they have Donaghy's. Apparently, the product association is with the Foundation not individual 'Legends'.

This years international tree climbing team are generating plenty of interest in New Zealand newspapers. The Bay of Plenty Times has a James Kirkpatrick article scheduled later this week and The Taranaki Daily News will feature Nicky Ward-Allen. Both papers have used the Legends Foundation website as reference.

Financial support from Treetools allowed for the construction of the Legends Foundation website, which is designed as a repository for kiwi tree climbing information as well as sponsor endorsement.

In a separate deal, unrelated to the Legends Foundation, patron Scott Forrest arranged with Donaghys for the provision of Cougar Blue climbing line to the kiwi ITCC team along with stylish black printed NZ TCC tee shirts from Joe Cooper's Rakau (other international competitive tree climbers will want to score one of those kiwi-made, limited edition tee shirts - that's for sure).

Young and old working together - 23rd Jul 2012

light logs on a 'zip line'
Soon to be published in Heritage New Zealand –  the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) magazine

An exciting youth initiative has enabled young people to learn some practical job skills while giving them an opportunity to interact with some of New Zealand’s oldest historic places.

Northland based arborists Kent Thwaites and Joe Cooper recently led a team of young people carrying out pruning and other arboricultural work on some of the country’s oldest trees at a number of NZ Historic Places Trust properties around Northland.

Kent – who works for private training provider Thoughtplanters Ltd – is delighted by the impact the programme has had on the budding arborists and landscapers.

“Many of these young people have found that formal education isn’t really for them, and so they’ve been in the position of looking for training opportunities to enable them to get a job and start a career,” says Kent who specialises in working with heritage trees and is involved with the NZ Notable Trees Trust and Northland Tree Climbers Association.

“Thoughtplanters worked with the NZ Historic Places Trust to provide an opportunity for these guys and girls to learn some skills, while also proactively managing some of our older trees in order to keep them healthy, and to remove any potential danger to the public from falling branches or limbs.”

As well as using their new skills, the nature of the project meant that trainees worked in gardens and public places where their efforts were appreciated by the community.

“The result was a lot of positive feedback and affirmation from people who saw the work that they were doing. For some kids experiencing this kind of positive interaction was a first,” says Kent.

“Trainees also learned a lot about some of our older trees – including New Zealand’s oldest oak tree at Te Waimate Mission, which really blew them away. Experiences like these ‘plant a seed’ in their minds about the importance of respecting trees for their heritage value. When they’re older, many of these kids will return knowing that they have been a part of the heritage of these trees.”

As well as working with trees – which Kent describes as “living, breathing links to the past” – many of the young trainees discovered family links to the historic buildings they were working near.

“Mita Harris, the manager at Te Waimate Mission, was able to talk about some of the family links many of these guys and girls had to the house through their tupuna. That just added another dimension of understanding and appreciation for them.”

Using ideas like whakapapa also enabled the trainees to pick up the concept of botanic nomenclature, which assigns Latin names to trees, enabling them to be classified according to their relationships and links with other trees.

“Basically, we were able to present this concept to them in the context of understanding a tree’s whakapapa within its wider botanic ‘family’,” says Kent.

“That approach makes a potentially daunting subject like tree identification and classification understandable and accessible.”

In addition to working on New Zealand’s oldest oak at Te Waimate, the trainees also worked on historic trees around Clendon House in Rawene, and Pompallier Mission in Russell – all properties cared for by the NZHPT.

Kent’s team were also able to experiment with new techniques, like the zip line – the equivalent of a large flying fox – which enabled logs to be removed from their source without damaging the ground, and potential archaeological features.

“We are very grateful for the work that Kent and his team of trainees have carried out on these important trees over the past few weeks,” says the NZHPT’s Northland Project Manager Tony Pickard.

“Not only have we been able to do some proactive pruning and maintenance on some of the oldest and most significant trees in New Zealand, we’ve also been able to allay any potential risk to the public. We’ve also been able to support Thoughtplanters in passing on expertise and experience to a new generation of potential arborists and landscapers while fostering a strong appreciation of heritage as well.”

For more information on the NZHTP visit:

Fly-in fly-out contracts - 18th Jul 2012

NZ climbers working in Canberra yesterday
Richard Wanhill, thoughtplanters Business Development Manager has come to the aid of our Australian friends by finding New Zealand arborists to fill a hole.

By offering short term fly-in fly-out contracts to qualified tree climbers Richard was able to assist the Australians without adding to the shortage of workers here in New Zealand. 'By doing it this way we retain our arborists and satisfy the needs of the client in Australia'.

Currently there is a team of arborists in Canberra lead by thoughtplanters trainer Andy Neverman. Their work has attracted the attention of Treetools - Richard Tregoweth posted on Monday, July 16, 2012

Opportunities abound for skilled aerial arborists

The limited size of our tree care labor pool is well documented - see previous treetools posts. Now it appears the land of milk and honey (Australia in case you don't know) is short of experienced aerial arborists as well.

There are a number of big tree care projects underway across the Tasman offering fly-in fly-out contracts to qualified tree climbers. The emphasis here is on 'qualified' - that is, brains are required and not just brawn (apparently the aussies have enough of that already).

The arb inspired gold rush in Australia is likely to be temporary aberration but is does highlight the opportunities available to highly-skilled staff.

On that front, Arb NZ headed by ex-Asplundh Dave Darbyshire is currently recruiting staff from the UK and Europe to help fill the void in the local labor market.

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