Why ‘Lancewood’ Education?

I get asked a lot why I chose to name Lancewood Education after the New Zealand native tree, the lancewood.

The name was chosen for several reasons really. Other than the fact I have always really admired it as a sculptural NZ native and it is the tree we planted for our daughter when she was born, the lancewood has unique growth characteristics that can be easily compared to us as learners, and to our students.

The young lancewood stays in its juvenile form for 15-20 years before transforming into a tree that some do not even recognise as the same species. Learners of all ages also go through a stage of transformation, often developing skills, attributes and beliefs we never imagined possible for ourselves. Like the growth of the lancewood, this learning takes time and the transformation makes it all worth it.

The lancewood is unique, just as we are.


Some interesting facts about the lancewood-


  • The latin name is Pseudopanax crassifolius, and it’s Maori name, horoeka. The name horoeka possibly derives from the early Maori use of the lancewood trunk as a spear to hunt kereru.

  • Lancewood are found all over NZ, including on Stewart Island.

  • Maori in the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) also used the pounded leaves of the lancewood to gather fine hairs then used to create paint brushes for rock painting.

  • Maori folklore states if the lancewood is flowering well, then birds will be plentiful in the following year, as the berries take a year to ripen.

  • Early European settlers used the tough leaves of the lancewood as laces for their boots and mending bridles and harnesses.

  • The lancewood can grow up to 15 metres tall, and with a trunk up to 50cm across.

  • Plants are either male or female.

  • While it is unknown exactly why the horoeka have two distinct growth phases, one theory is that the juvenile downward facing, spiked leaves were a definitive mechanism against the tall reaches of the moa.

More information can be found about the lancewood/horoeka here on this DOC information page.