Oldest exotic trees in the Far North

LIVING HISTORY: Arborist Kent Thwaites with the country's oldest pear tree in Kerikeri.
LIVING HISTORY: Arborist Kent Thwaites with the country's oldest pear tree in Kerikeri.

Many people know that the country’s two oldest buildings are in the Far North, but how many are aware that the district boasts some of New Zealand’s oldest exotic trees.

A pear tree near Kerikeri’s Stone Store is estimated to be 189-years-old, making it the oldest pear tree in the country.

An oak tree planted at Waimate North in 1831 - after being moved from Paihia where it stood for seven years - is New Zealand’s oldest oak at 184-years.

A Lebanon cedar at Paheke Bed and Breakfast near Ohaeawai is the largest and oldest tree of its kind at 143-years.

Kerikeri arborist Ken Thwaites is well aware of the district’s botanical heritage.

The trustee of the Notable Trees Trust has inspected the 200-plus trees on the Far North District Council’s list of notable trees which are protected under the Resource Management Act.

He says the district could do more to promote an appreciation of its trees, many of which have their roots in colonial history.

"I would like to see trees acknowledged a bit more and treated as a community asset. We can learn great things about our culture, history and spirituality from trees."

Two 178-year-old Norfolk Pines at Tapeka Point Reserve, Russell, were planted to mark the birth of missionary Samuel Marsden’s sons, he says.

A Leyland Cypress at the junction of York, Pitt and Church St in Russell was planted in 1945 to celebrate the Allied Forces victory over Japan.

Notable native trees include the 800-year-old pohutukawa at Cape Reinga - significant to Maori as the ‘place of leaping’ for spirits returning to Hawaiiki - and the 1500-year-old kauri Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest.

The trust plans to establish an online database of the country’s notable trees to make information about them more accessible to the public and schools.

People who know of a notable tree or group of trees that are not registered with the trust should contact Kent on 407 5958 or 021 403 255 or email the trust at notabletrees@rnzih.org.nz.

For more information about the trust, visit its web site at www.notabletrees.org.nz

Northern News