In 1989, while working for the Forest Research Institute, Gordon began an investigation into the health of Metrosideros excelsa (mainland pohutukawa). His findings were alarming: more than 90% of coastal pohutukawa stands were dead or dying, having succumbed to pastoral farming, possums and fire.
He quickly turned his research into action, and a community-based project was formed to rescue the tree grew out of discussions with colleagues at the Department of Conservation and New Zealand Forest Products (now Carter Holt Harvey). This of course was the beginnings of the Project Crimson Trust.
Much of Gordon’s 30 years at the Forest Research Institute was spent working with native species such as Nothofagus (beech), pohutukawa and cabbage trees, as well as aerial surveillance and remote sensing.
He left the Forest Research Institute in 1998 to take up the job of Chief Forestry Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, but being a provincial boy at heart, he declined to shift from Rotorua to Wellington and resigned. He is now in the full throes of “retirement” running a forest health consultancy from Mangawhai in Northland.
Having had his fill of international travel, the politics of Wellington and seven day working weeks, it is time to make space for the things he really enjoys; mountain biking, sailing, camping and work that takes him back into the forest. Tineke, his wife, and daughter Michele hope to see a little more of him, preferably cooking, making beds, cleaning the car and mowing the lawn.