Tree paradise opens in Bay

By Lawrence Gullery

People will have a chance see the results of a decade of development at the Guthrie-Smith Arboretum when the 90ha site at Tutira, which now has over 20,000 trees, opens to the public on Sunday.

The arboretum spreads over the rolling hills bordering Lake Tutira and Lake Orakai and is planted with trees from New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, the Himalayas, Europe, Mexico, North America, and Mediterranean.

Each group of trees is linked by walking tacks, with one of the most dramatic The Hanger, which follows through a 10ha hill-face area left largely untouched by human intervention for over 115 years.

The origins of the arboretum date back to when naturalist and farmer Herbert Guthrie-Smith, who farmed Tutira Station from 1882 to 1940, owned over 60,000 acres (24281ha) of land.

He died in 1940, and two years later his daughter Barbara Absolom donated 800ha for New Zealanders' benefit and, particularly, for educational and recreational purposes. The Guthrie-Smith Trust was set up to administer the land. The trust sold all but 80ha in 1997 and the money was used to develop the property. A 10ha block of Redwoods and pines was subsequently purchased.

The trust also administers an education centre at the site, and thousands of people have visited on school trips and camps.

Originally, the buildings were home to many farm cadets who honed their farming skills on Tutira Station, and provided labour.

One of those cadets was David Allan, who succeeded John Nott as the trust chairman last year. Mr Nott is a former managing director of Williams and Kettle and retired after 38 years with the trust, the final 11 as chairman.

Over the past decade, the trust has been working to develop Guthrie-Smith into an asset for the region, with physical and financial support from Pan Pac Forest Products, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Department of Conservation, individuals and organisations.

A full-time curator, George Christison, was employed 11 years ago and is responsible for the extensive planting programme, and with the regular help of community services workers has overseen over $5 million worth of tracks, dams, fencing and other capital works.

Last year the trust moved closer to its goal of opening up Guthrie-Smith as an all-year-round visitor destination, with the creation of a new brand.

A free open day, with escorted walking tours, will be held at the arboretum from 11.30am to 4pm, on Sunday.

A bus will travel from Havelock North through to Napier and return, for a cost of $10 per person (children free).

Otherwise, visitors can get there by car. The trip takes 30 minutes from Napier.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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