Saturday, 24 March 2007

Alex McKenzie Arboretum 2

A recent article in the Southland Times ( ) detailed some of the history of the Alex McKenzie Arboretum. Since I am learning more and more about Southland history, I thought I'd reprint an excerpt from this article in case the article is eventually taken offline.

The property was originally owned by the McKenzie family and it was compulsorily acquired by the Government during World War 2 and served as a linen flax processing site.

The property passed to the New Zealand Forest Service in the late 1940s.

The site was the centre of the Forest Service operations for the Western District from the 1950s until 1987.

During this time, an arboretum was established, with trees dating back to 1952.

The Forest Service was disestablished in the late 1980s and Rayonier New Zealand bought the management and cutting rights to the property in 1990.

In 2003 Southland District Council negotiated the purchase of the land from Rayonier. Since then, a management regime had been debated.

In addition to the arboretum, there is a picnic area, toilet block, network of bridges and a circular walkway.

A Southland District Council report from last year says little maintenance of the block has been done in the past 25 years and work is needed to eliminate weeds, restore tracks and replace broken or missing plaques at the base of some of the trees.

However, the report also notes that it has the potential to become a quality park of significance to the whole region.

The trustee members elected were: Mike Whale (chairman), Dave Frew, Simon Stopford, Vic Keen, Jesse Bythell (secretary) and Sandra McKenzie, with the Wallace Community Board representative yet to be confirmed.


Badger said...

This park is a lovely place, even if it does need some weeding and tree names replaced.
We often go down there for a walk around, or to stand on the little bridge over the brook watching and listening to the water and the birds.

Earlier this year, the Linden trees were full of blossom. The air around was filled with their scent and the sound of bees. What a temptation, overcome I might add, to fill a bag with the blossoms to enjoy as a tea back at home.

If I were to wax poetical, I could say,
"Come down to Mckenzie in Lindentime, in Lindentime, in Lindentime.
Come down to McKenzie in Lindentime, it isn't far from Otautau".

Otautau Blogger said...

That's really lovely. Thanks for contributing it.

I'm wondering if the new trust that is managing the park might be interested in a little 'harvest' clause or something similar as you thought of for collecting Linden blossoms.

One person suggested that we have a harakeke (flax) area in the park which was dedicated for weaving so that people could harvest and keep up the tradition. I myself am learning to make kete and am always looking for flax bushes that are not on someone's property so I can practice.

Thanks for your comment. It's good to hear that others are using the park.

Sprout said...

Thanks for the comments about the arboretum. I will raise the issue of gathering linden flowers and the possibility of planting harakeke specifically for harvest at the next Trust meeting. In due time there will be more plants, including flax around the stream/wetland area that was cleared of crack willow last summer.

If anyone is interested, the local Forest and Bird branch is having a fieldtrip to the arboretum next Saturday (19 January). We will meet in the carpark at 11am for a walk around the arboretum with myself and Vic Keen, one of the other Trustees. Please feel free to come along.

Jesse Bythell
Secretary, Alex McKenzie Memorial Arboretum Charitable Trust

Otautau Blogger said...

Thanks, Jesse, for the information about the Forest & Bird field trip. I have made it a post and put it in the little upcoming events list.

And thanks for taking our comments on board and bringing them to the Trust. It's a valuable place with tons of potential.

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