Land owned by a well-known Northland family, next to a central Whangārei park, has been gifted to the people of Whangārei.

Janet Watkins (nee Pickmere) and her brother Dave Pickmere had been in discussions with Whangārei District Council staff over the last two years about protecting land that they owned adjacent to Mair Park.

Arthur Pickmere originally bought a house and fields on Hatea St, as it was known in 1912.

Since then the property to the south of what is now Rurumoki St has been subdivided but a section of land adjoining Mair Park was retained.

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The siblings agreed to gift the land to the council.

The land is forested and includes stonewalls and a small island in the Hatea River which is accessible at low tide.

Janet Watkins and Dave Pickmere have gifted land adjacent to Mair Park to Whangārei District Council. Photo/John Stone
Janet Watkins and Dave Pickmere have gifted land adjacent to Mair Park to Whangārei District Council. Photo/John Stone

Watkins said despite the land belonging to them, the public did use it.

She said the family could have sold the land to the highest bidder, but this way everyone - including themselves - can carry on enjoying it.

"It's still there, it's still the same, everybody's got access as they always have."

Watkins and Pickmere reminisced about playing on the land, in the Hatea River and the adjacent Mair Park.

"We used to row up the river and go swimming. There was a diving board over there," Watkins said.

The gift was formally accepted at a full Whangārei District Council meeting yesterday.

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The 9252 square metre land includes the small island in the Hatea River. Photo/John Stone
The 9252 square metre land includes the small island in the Hatea River. Photo/John Stone

The 9252 square metres of land will be called Pickmere Park and will be classified as a scenic reserve.

Councillors expressed their thanks to the family who were sitting in the public gallery, for the gift.

Councillor Crichton Christie said it would add to Mair Park, "which is one of our jewels".

Mayor Sheryl Mai said it was "an incredibly generous gift you've made to the people of Whangārei".

Pickmere Park will be maintained by the council as part of the larger area of Parihaka and Hatea River reserves.

A sign or other form of acknowledgement to be erected on the site will be arranged with the Pickmere family.

Council staff will also look into other possibilities, such as tracks, for the site.