The close ties between Ireland and New Zealand were on display today as Ambassador Brad Burgess visited Malahide Castle and Gardens for a special silver fern planting ceremony to help commemorate Waitangi Day. The silver fern is a species endemic to New Zealand, dating back to the Pliocene epoch (around 5 to 1.8 million years ago). It has been accepted as a symbol of New Zealand’s national identity since the 1880s and has special significance to the Māori people as the elegant shape of the fronds stood for strength, stubborn resistance, and enduring power.The visitor attraction at Malahide is well known for housing a tremendous range of species from the Southern Hemisphere thanks to the 7th Baron Malahide, Milo Talbot, who introduced many rare trees and shrubs to the grounds. Over the last 12 months work has been undertaken to further expand the collection of New Zealand flora at the site, with over 25 different varieties of Phormiums planted. The special New Zealand Garden within the grounds also features a Māori hut and a stunning Pouwhenua sculpture by Irish woodcarver Richie Clarke. The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh, said: “Kia ora e kare ma, Fáilte romhat go Mullach Íde! I am delighted to welcome Ambassador Burgess for this commemorative silver fern planting ceremony to help celebrate Waitangi Day. New Zealand Ambassador, Brad Burgess, said: “It’s great to be able to be here to add to the New Zealand Gardens in Fingal, and especially to see such a wonderful silver fern coming into the collection. Waitangi Day is a really important celebration for all New Zealanders around the world, the birthdate of our modern nation. There’s a significant Irish connection too, as William Hobson who crafted the treaty was born in Waterford and became our first Governor.