Pernel Orchard sells for $3.2 million

By Victoria White

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Pernel Orchard has sold at auction for $3.2 million in Napier yesterday.
Pernel Orchard has sold at auction for $3.2 million in Napier yesterday.

It was all auction action at Colliers International yesterday where Pernel Orchard went under the hammer and sold for more than $3 million.

Colliers International Hawke's Bay Rural director Hadley Brown said the Pakowhai Rd property had been "exceptionally well sold, with good competition".

"It sold well in excess of its rateable value," he said. "It was a very good result."

Rob Nankervis of Collier's International speaks to his eventual buyer during the packed auction at Collier's International.
Rob Nankervis of Collier's International speaks to his eventual buyer during the packed auction at Collier's International.

Listing agent Louise Wake said she had hoped the orchard would go for a high amount, so it had been a great result.

"I've sold a lot of horticulture properties, but none with a cafe," she said, "I'm very pleased with the outcome."

Supervised by national auctioneer John Bowring, the auction saw three titles, sold as one bundle, go to a phone bidder for $3.2 million.

While they were always hopeful of a good turnout at auctions, Mr Brown said the best part of yesterday's had been the diversity of the purchasers.

"There were purchasers from all different ends of the market, which really drove the demand," he said. "Another reason it went so well was because there was that strong commercial focus."

Normally, such a site would attract only horticulturists, but yesterday's crowd included corporate investors, local horticulturists, and other parties looking for a good investments.

With 15.3 hectares of "very good soil", a high level of infrastructure and a central location, Ms Wake said it was attractive to all sorts of buyers.

The diversity of the site also offered various income streams for the new owner.

Mr Brown could not say who the new owner was, but did say it had been bought by a local horticulture-based company.

It had been great to see the property stayed in the hands of a horticulturist, he said.
"It's going to be well looked after by the new purchaser."

Brothers pleased to play part in history

From left to right: David Mardon, Iain Mardon and Philip Mardon pictured on the family property at Pernel Fruitworld.
From left to right: David Mardon, Iain Mardon and Philip Mardon pictured on the family property at Pernel Fruitworld.

The 104-year-old Pernel Orchard land holds a "lifetime of memories" for the Mardon family, but yesterday the Pakowhai Rd complex passed into new hands.

Brothers David and Philip Mardon have lived on the site their entire lives. It has grown from 10 acres, purchased by their grandparents in 1912, housing a few fruit trees, to a 33-hectare site where more than 85 varieties of apples and stonefruit are grown and sold.

Yesterday, 15ha was sold for more than $3million along with assets including a cafe, coolstores, and two houses.

While fruit had been sold from the site since 1936, the brothers had developed the family business from their parents' mail order system, to a roadside stall, to stocking their produce in local supermarkets, and their on-site shop.

After their original store burnt down in the 1990s, the brothers took advantage of the developing tourism industry, offering tractor tours through the orchard, or a visit to the on-site cafe and shop.

The property where they had worked for more than 60 years held many memories, including career and industry highlights.

"It's been an exciting industry to be in because of the changes in the way we've done things," Philip said, citing the transition from manual labour, earlier means of production, and from clean cultivated soil to grassing down.

"We were extremely lucky we've lived through a period when those events made such a massive change to the handling of product," David said.

Some of these changes the brothers played a role in, such as a fruit-handling machine which sized fruit according to weight rather than physical size, and is now widely used.

"It was a catalyst that started what now plays a big part in the industry, that goes back to that 1970's deal," Philip said.

"An industry New Zealand is now leading the world in, we feel we played a part in that," David said.

While they were both pleased with the result of yesterday's auction, it hadn't been easy to sell the land.

"I am [sad] because of the history," Philip said. "I would have liked to have seen the business carry on as is but it's impossible to finance that."

David said: "I was sad but I've gone beyond that, I went through that 12 months ago when we made the decision to sell."

They were pleased the land would be staying with local horticulturists, and welcomed the "new blood and ideas" they would bring.

There will still be a Mardon tie as Philip's son, Iain, owns the remainder of the land.

While Iain had worked in the orchard for years, his father said: "I'm looking forward to seeing how he can manage on his own."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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