Thieves have been systematically stripping fruit trees around Kerikeri's Stone Store and have broken a heritage plum tree in two after clambering on its branches.

The raids mean Heritage New Zealand, which looks after Kerikeri Mission Station, won't be producing any fruit jams or jellies from its orchard this year — so the organisation will miss out on the extra funds and tourists won't be able to take home a tasty souvenir.

Liz Bigwood, who manages the mission station, said she noticed a few trees had been completely harvested last year. This summer every single tree had been stripped.

''It's the plums, the peaches, the figs, the lemons ... They've taken the entire crop in one fell swoop. We don't mind the public tasting a few, but people are coming in with tubs and taking the lot.''

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Kerikeri Mission Station visitor host Harriet Barker-Reid with a plum tree stripped of fruit and broken by thieves. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kerikeri Mission Station visitor host Harriet Barker-Reid with a plum tree stripped of fruit and broken by thieves. Photo / Peter de Graaf

In the latest raid, on Sunday, thieves also broke a large branch on an old plum tree, presumably as they were climbing up to reach the higher fruit.

Bigwood said Heritage NZ discouraged people from climbing the trees, even if they weren't taking fruit, because some were historic in their own right.

One of the pear trees had been planted in the 1830s, making it only a decade younger than the nation's oldest fruit tree across the road at the Pear Tree Restaurant.

She believed the fruit was being sold at markets or on roadsides because it was too much for any one person or family to eat.

In past years the Stone Store had sold hundreds of jars of jams and jellies made with heritage fruit from the mission station's own orchard. It wasn't a big money spinner but visitors liked to take home a taste of Kerikeri history, she said.

''The money goes towards looking after the buildings. It's not a huge commercial empire by any means, but it all helps.''

The Honey House Café, behind Kemp House, also liked to serve treats made with fruit grown on site such as citrus slice and lemon posset, an old-fashioned pudding.

None of that was possible if there was no fruit left, she said.

Fruit thieves are thought to have snapped off this large branch on a plum tree behind Kemp House. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Fruit thieves are thought to have snapped off this large branch on a plum tree behind Kemp House. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The orchard was safe while staff were about, from 8.30am to 5.30pm, but she appealed to locals to help keep an eye on the property in the evening and early in the morning.

Anyone who saw raiders filling tubs or bags with fruit should note their vehicle registration and take a photo if possible.

On the evening of February 4 a witness saw two young men in a white van filling large tubs of fruit but he was unable to get their licence plate details. Police have been notified.

Kerikeri Mission Station comprises the Stone Store (1832-36), Kemp House (1821-22) and gardens.