An apple tree that started its life in Whanganui will further establish New Zealand's connection with a small town in France.

At the end of World War I, Le Quesnoy, which sits near the border with Belgium, was liberated by New Zealand soldiers.

There are streets, a memorial and a primary school all with New Zealand names to mark the significant role Kiwi soldiers played.

Now there's an apple tree, which can be traced back to Springvale, Whanganui.


In 2015 a Belgian man by the name of Jean-Luc Jourdain contacted the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust here asking for wood samples of two types of apple trees; Monty's Surprise and Hetlina.

The wood samples sent to Jourdain were then grafted on to rootstocks and several trees have been grown.

Jourdain was a member of a group known as Fraternités Ouvrières based in Mouscron, Belgium and he'd been working with another group of apple enthusiasts in Lille known as the Croqueurs de Pommes.

The two have organised for one of the flourishing Monty's Surprise apple trees to be presented at a ceremony to the mayor of Le Quesnoy this weekend to further mark the connection between New Zealand and the town.

The director at the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust in Springvale, Mark Christensen, was stoked to be involved.

"It's a lovely connection to make. It just continues the history with that part of France.

"We were quite delighted and actually a little bit moved by this coming together. Obviously it's quite significant for them and that's quite touching for us."

Monty's Surprise, which is a 100-year-old seedling tree, had medicinal qualities that Christensen said his European counterparts were wanting.


"They were specifically looking for these old-fashioned, medicinal apples. And the Monty's Surprise we think is the best in the world. So they contacted us and we sent them some grafting wood."

Christensen said his counterparts had interesting samples of apple trees they offered to him but it's difficult to bring them in because of biosecurity rules.