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New era for heritage pear trees

Media release

September 25, 2008

New era for heritage pear trees

A commitment to preserving a piece of Waitakere’s orcharding heritage could start to bear fruit in less than a decade.

Waitakere City Council this week planted 20 pear trees in Henderson’s Cranwell Park. The trees were propagated from varieties first grown by the Cranwell family more than 100 years ago and it is hoped the modern plants will start to fruit in five to seven years time.

The park is where Robert Cranwell established Pomaria Orchards between 1890 and 1891 and where he planted around 100 acres of orchard with pears, figs, apples, peaches, plums and citrus.

Culture and Community Committee chairman councillor Judy Lawley and Henderson Community Board chairman Elizabeth Grimmer and board member Elizabeth Francke were on hand to help with the digging.

“The preservation of these trees on public land means that they can continue to be relevant to the community today," says Cr Lawley.

In July, the council’s Culture and Community Committee gave the go ahead to plant the trees in historically significant sites throughout the city, starting with Cranwell Park. More will be planted at Corban Winery Estate, Tui Glen and the Harbouview/Orangihina Park in Te Atatu.

Former city councillor, the late Gordon Sunde, raised the importance of preserving and propagating the pear trees as a link to the region’s strong orcharding heritage. Mr Sunde’s family is synonymous with orcharding and viticulture in the region.

Elizabeth Francke was another calling for the trees’ preservation.

“I’m delighted these beautiful trees will be around for future generations to enjoy,” she says.

Orcharding, viticulture and farming became the predominant land uses in Waitakere at the turn of the 20th century, after land had been cleared for the area's early industries, such as timber milling, gum digging and ceramics.

In fact, up until the 1960s Waitakere was known as Auckland’s “fruit bowl” but demand for housing soon began fragmenting the existing orchards and vineyards.

© Scoop Media

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