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Julian Emeny

Team Manager Arboriculture


Ever since Julian Emeny was a schoolboy, trees have been important to him. He now manages the team at Wellington City Council, which looks after the very pohutukawa he played in as a child.

"We would always run along the path and jump up and see if we could touch the branches and then climb in them. Years later I came to work on them and prune them, and now I actually manage these trees."

Julian took horticulture as a school subject and was working part time as a gardener when he heard there was a job going in the city council's tree team. He got the job and started out as a groundsman, looking after garden beds and doing tree planting and pruning.

From there he trained as an arborist, planting, pruning and felling trees, and after a spell in customer liaison he was seconded to the team manager arboriculture position. In this job he makes sure his team has everything they need to do their job safely.

"It's organising timesheets and projects, getting quoting done, sorting out the day-to-day running of the crews, making sure the work schedules are fine."

Julian also works on budgets, makes sure the annual planning is done, and deals with any difficult enquiries from the public.

"It can be a challenge, particularly if we are chopping down a tree because of health and safety issues and the risk it poses. Most people believe that it's perfectly fine so we need to educate people on why we're going to chop that tree down. When we come to our tree planning, half the people want trees and half the people don't want trees – it's managing expectations."

Knowing his work is long-lasting is a big satisfaction for Julian. "Over the years I've planted thousands of trees around the city. I'll probably never see the value of those trees, it's probably 60 to 80 years before they show that value."

Looking to the future, Julian is also passing his love of trees on to his own family. "My son loves climbing around in trees and that's something I encourage. I have ropes in trees for him to pull himself up, to encourage that sort of interest."

How Julian became team manager, arboriculture

  • Studied horticulture at school and did part-time gardening work.
  • Got a job as a groundsman in the tree team at Wellington City Council.
  • Started climbing trees at work and became a trainee arborist.
  • Did on-the-job training and block courses at Waikato Polytechnic (now Wintec).
  • Completed a National Certificate in Horticulture, specialising in arboriculture, through the Horticulture Industry Training Organisation.
  • Completed a National Diploma in Arboriculture through Telford Rural Polytechnic.
  • Appointed team manager, arboriculture at Wellington City Council.