A ceremony in the grounds of Kerikeri's Stone Store has marked the 200th anniversary of the planting of New Zealand's first grapevine.
On September 25, 1819, the Rev Samuel Marsden recorded in his diary that he had planted a vine at Kerikeri Mission Station, a short distance from the pā of Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika.
That makes New Zealand one of very few countries in the world where the exact planting date of the first vine is known.
With unusual foresight, Marsden also noted in his diary: "New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine, as far as I can judge at present of the nature of the soil and climate. Should the vine succeed, it will prove of vast importance in this part of the globe."
That viticultural milestone was celebrated on Wednesday with a ceremonial re-planting at Kerikeri Mission Station followed by a Northland wine tasting and dinner at the Treaty Grounds.
About 110 members of New Zealand Winegrowers from as far away as Central Otago took part in the event, along with representatives of Heritage New Zealand.
The vine marking the 200th anniversary was planted by NZ Winegrowers chairman John Clarke — who christened it with a bottle of 2015 syrah from Bay of Islands winery The Landing — along with Marsden Estate winemaker Rod McIvor, Heritage NZ northern region director Sherry Reynolds, and Kipa Munro of local hapū Ngāti Rehia.
The first recorded New Zealand wine was made by James Busby in 1830s.
Busby, the British Resident in New Zealand, lived in what is now called the Treaty House at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
When the French naval officer and explorer Jules Dumont D'Urville visited in 1840 he was disappointed to find Busby wasn't home, but he did sample one of his wines.
Later, on board his ship Astrolabe, D'Urville penned the first New Zealand wine review in his journal: ''With great pleasure, I agreed to taste the product of the vineyard that I had just seen. I was given a light white wine, very sparkling, and delicious to taste, which I enjoyed very much''.
Later, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, European immigrants — particularly from Dalmatia in what is now Croatia — set up vineyards around the country.
Today New Zealand's wine industry is a $1.83 billion export earner with more than 600 grape growers and 700 wineries.