On April 29th, 2016, Bishop Mark Whitfield (watering the tree) planted a silver linden tree on behalf of the Lutheran Church in New Zealand. The selected bible verse was in memory of the church service on Christmas Day 1814, in which the gospel was read for the first time in New Zealand.
On Reformation Day, October 31st, 2016, Pastor Chris Janetzki, Brigitte Inglis and Andy Marr (see photo) planted the first partner tree for the Lutheran Church in New Zealand at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Upper Moutere, the first Lutheran church on mainland New Zealand, founded in 1843. Two more partner trees followed on New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2017, both on Chatham Island. The planting, at the grave of Gossner Missionary David Muller, was carried out by Harald Lehmann, Chair of the Gossner Mission, and Prof. Dr. h.c. Margot Käßmann, representative of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany. On the following day, another tree was planted in Te Whakaru at the grave of Maria Baucke, wife of Gossner missionary Johan Baucke, by Ron and River Seymour, their descendants. Bishop Mark Whitfield encouraged the congregations of his church “to plant a Luther tree in a public garden, park or space, as a way of publicly commemorating the Reformation.”