Alan died on 12 September after a life time of study, field research and teaching of botany, taxonomy and ecology of NZ flora. At his funeral in Mt Albert his sons, relatives and professional colleagues looked back on his passion for plants, ecology and the effect Alan had had on their lives. Alan's observation powers, his meticulous recording and his detailed sketches of plants were recalled with admiration.
During the 20 years as a DSIR Botanist in Auckland he surveyed many plant communities and amassed his own regional plant collection, which he donated to the herbarium at the Auckland Museum. The culmination of his skills came in 2004 with the publication of "Wild Plants of Auckland", the story of 322 plant species and their communities that grow wild in Auckland's increasingly urban environment.
Altogether he put out 150 publications, many of them in the NZ Journal of Botany. Amongst these were some early reports on surveys of sand dune colonies of the Manawatu and West Auckland. These pioneering dune ecology reports earnt him the title "NZ Father of Sand Dune Ecology". In 2015, in recognition of this work, Alan was the inaugural recipient of the 'Pingao & Toheroa Award' at the Dune Restoration Trust conference in Whitianga.This distinctive hand carved trophy depicts the curious relationship between the pingao sand binding plant and the toheroa life cycle. It was carved by Northland's dune and shellfish researcher and activist James Te Tuhi.
I was fortunate to be able to attend Alan's funeral and offer a short tribute to his family and friends on behalf of the Trust.
Ross Duder - Piha CoastCare