The History of the Grange Norfolk Tree:

“Information courtesy of the NZ Tree Register.”

Location Name:

Hamilton Landing Scenic Reserve

Address:

375 Hamilton Road

Suburb/Town:

Mahurangi East – Warkworth

Location Description:

The tree can be seen as one nears the end of Hamilton Road. It is situated some distance away on a DOC riparian strip alongside the Mahurangi River. Access to the tree is across private land and permission should be obtained.

Tree Details – Genus:

Araucaria

Species:

Heterophylla

Common names:

Norfolk Island pine,

Given Name:

The Grange Norfolk

Height:

34.60m

Girth:

997.7 cm

Girth measurement height:

1.37 m

Diameter:

317.6 cm

Avg. Crown Spread:

23.60m

Actual Planting Date:

actual date not specified

Approx. Planting Date:

c1850 – e.g. circa. 1860

Current Age:

164 years

Tree Health Description:

Some crown dieback which is expected for a tree of this age. Some pressure from livestock is evident.

Tree Form Comments:

The tree has a massive trunk and buttresses. The top 3-4m is missing

History of Grange Farm

Maori History

Sometime prior to the 1820’s local Maori from the Mahurangi Heads area used portions of the fertile flats of this property to grow their kumara. Along the bush edge can be seen numerous shell middens, and one kumara storage pit has been identified alongside a large puriri tree to the SE of the Lodge. It is believed most of the kumara grown would have been stored at their villages around the mouth of the river.

European History

Grange Family 1853-1893

In 1853 Captain Hugh Grange, who owned and ran a coastal schooner called “Tattycorum”, bought 200 acres on the banks of the Mahurangi River. Capt. Grange built his house on the SE corner of this property where there was easy tidal access to a branch of the Te Whau (Dawson’s) Creek. The only access to the property until 1912 was from the river. The house was named “Harbour View” as there was a clear view down to the river mouth from the homestead. This house was later dismantled and taken to Lilburn Street in Warkworth and re-erected for Hugh Grange’s widow. An oak seedling and a Norfolk Island pine were planted beside the gate to the homestead. The giant oak tree collapsed in a gale in 1982, but the Norfolk pine is one of the largest of its kind and still stands proud today 160 years on. Measurements taken in 2009 show that it has the largest known girth of any Norfolk Island Pine in the world! The nearby oak and two others on the property were grown from acorns off the original oak that fell. Compiled from notes taken from www.mihiraulodge.co.nz see also www.conifers.org

The main leader has gone, resulting in a somewhat thin and shabby looking top. Lyn Wade reports ‘that it was lost during the Second World War when a girl who was helping out on the farm was dared to climb to the top. To prove she had she broke off the tip. The tree died back about 8 metres after this. When my father, Dr. Max Hamilton retired back to the family property in 1970 the Norfolk Pine had two growing tips one of which he had removed’. The tree is a little less magnificent as a result. Gould, B. 2010.

A second house was built for Capt. Grange’s daughter, Jeanie, on the west of the property looking up the river. In spring snowdrops can be seen flowering in the paddock just to the west of “Mihirau” where the house was sited. Apparently this house burnt down in 1892 while Capt. Grange’s brother, John was living there. A new dwelling was started to the NW and was nearing completion in 1893 when the property was sold to William Hamilton, in July 1893.

Hamilton Family 1893-

William Hamilton’s father, also William, was of Scottish descent and had come to New Zealand from County Armagh in Ireland in 1856 and settled in the Wainui area, behind Silverdale. The farm was hard pressed to support eight children and young William worked hard to accumulate some capital to buy his own property, by scraping kauri gum and making kauri shingles from trees felled as his father’s farm was cleared. In 1893 William paid the Grange family 480 pounds for 200 acres and the nearly completed house. At the request of Mrs Grange the homestead was named “The Grange”. A name that it is still known by today.

The land was not developed in any way and Willie had to find some employment while he was clearing the land. By 1896 he had a small orchard planted near the homestead and a home paddock grassed. In the same year he married Isabella Wilson, a daughter of Nathaniel Wilson, who developed the cement industry here in Warkworth, and Florence Snell of Snell’s Beach.

Willie and Belle, as they were known, went on to have a family of four talented children: Nathaniel, an engineer and boatbuilder, whose grandsons now run most of the original farm plus many more acres: Gertrude a talented pianist and artist who never married, but in her later years became quite a local identity:  Flora, who for many years was the only florist in the area, she lived at ‘The Grange’ for most of her life and developed the garden to supply her floral requirements. Some of her descendants still live locally: William Maxwell (Lyn’s father) who graduated from Massey Agricultural College in 1936 with a Masters degree and went on to become Director General of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) for nearly 20 years.

Max, as he was known to most, married the girl next door, Alice Morrison, from a local orcharding family. Work kept them in Wellington until they retired to the Hamilton family farm in 1971. They built themselves a new home which they named “Mihirau”, (meaning many leaves or many greetings), and developed an extensive and interesting garden which for many years was open to the public.

When Dave Wade and Lyn Hamilton married in 1984 they moved into the old homestead and raised their family there, the fourth generation of Hamilton’s on the property.

 

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