Lemon tree con­nects past and present

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

It’s a lemon tree with real his­tory. A cut­ting from what is be­lieved to be New Zealand’s old­est fruit tree was planted on the week­end in a cer­e­mony mark­ing a unique piece of Kiwi his­tory.

Pt Chevalier’s Stan Hansen is a rel­a­tive of one of the peo­ple to cre­ate the Oihi Mis­sion Sta­tion af­ter land­ing in the Bay of Is­lands in 1814.

His great-great-great-great­grand­fa­ther Thomas Hansen, cap­tain of the brig Ac­tive, brought mis­sion­ary Sa­muel Mars­den and oth­ers to New Zealand from New South Wales.

To­day lit­tle ev­i­dence of the set­tle­ment re­mains, just a few grave­stones of those who died in the re­mote area and a soli­tary lemon tree.

Mr Hansen says af­ter four years of plan­ning, a cut­ting from the tree that had been lov­ingly nur­tured to a de­cent size was fi­nally planted on Sun­day, mean­ing the tree will live in two places.

‘‘The ship car­ried the first horses, cat­tle, sheep, plants and seeds,’’ Mr Hansen says.

‘‘It could be best de­scribed as a Noah’s Ark.’’

The set­tle­ment was aban­doned in 1832 but the tree sur­vived and in 2009 Stan’s son Eric went to Oihi, be­gin­ning the pro­ject of tak­ing a cut­ting for re­plant­ing at Kerik­eri’s Kemp House which Thomas Hansen had helped to build.

‘‘It’s like the clos­ing of a cir­cle,’’ Stan Hansen says.

The pro­ject has been sup­ported by the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and the His­toric Places Trust.

Lemon his­tory: Pt Chevalier man Stan Hansen plants a prop­a­gated off­shoot of a lemon tree orig­i­nally planted by his an­ces­tor in the early 1800s.

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