The British mother of a former Taranaki tree surgeon who died from a chainsaw accident, wants to see his vision of ecologically sustainable developments in New Zealand live on.

Alexander Kirkley died, aged 32, last February after a chainsaw he was using 6 metres up an ash tree in Britain kicked back and sliced into the jugular vein in his neck, causing catastrophic blood loss.

Before he could be lowered from the tree, he had stopped breathing and was in cardiac arrest. He died later at an Oxford hospital from blood loss.

Before returning home to Britain, Kirkley had worked at a New Plymouth landscaping business.


The inquest into his death heard of Kirkley's dreams. His mother, Janet Kirkley, told the coroner that her son had lived in a Mongolian yurt (a type of tent) for two years, "first in our back garden and then down in Devon".

"He visited more than 13 countries and was interested people wherever he went. He lived in an eco-friendly way and it was his dream to build and live in an eco-friendly village in New Zealand."

Janet Kirkley, a retired community worker, told the Herald tonight from her home at East Anglia, England, that she had visited New Zealand last year to attend a memorial service for her son with his friends in New Plymouth.

She said her son, the grandson of the late Sir Leslie Kirkley, the first director of Oxfam-UK, had studied fine arts and was deeply interested in architecture. Following his death, documents detailing his plans were discovered.

"We found 80-odd pages of this stuff in his luggage with his blueprint for an eco-community and how he was going to get it going."

Janet Kirkley said the family had created Alexander's Tree Trust, which she hopes to fund by giving talks to trainee arborists.

Its aims are to improve health and safety standards in tree surgery, and to promote eco-friendly lifestyles.

"I had already spoken to people in New Zealand about setting up a similar group there."

"He had already formed a group of like-minded people that wanted to set up an eco-village. It's a question of providing the leadership that Alexander was very good at providing."