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Tree Information x

Identifier: NR/1229
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Arthur, G.
Registration Category: Historic tree – National interest
General Notes:
Lemon could be oldest in NZ

A Bay of Islands landmark once the site of the country's first European settlement, first land sale and first farm now has another claim to fame - New Zealand's oldest lemon tree.
Marsden Cross Historic Memorial Reserve at Rangihoua Bay on the Purerua Peninsula is where missionary the Rev Samuel Marsden held New Zealand's first Christian sermon when he arrived in 1814.
Marsden Cross was erected there in 1907 to mark the birthplace of Christianity in New Zealand.
Two settlers who arrived with Marsden, John and Hannah King, produced the first European baby born in New Zealand and are buried under a memorial at the site.
There's also an anchor at the reserve dedicated to Thomas Hansen, New Zealand's first non-missionary European settler.
Descendants of Thomas Hansen, Aucklanders Stan and Kath Hansen and their son Eric from Ruakaka, were doing some maintenance work on the Hansen memorial when Eric found the "very old" lemon tree bearing fruit.
The tree, plus remnants of briar rose growing on a hillside, were the only visible reminders of the settlers' gardens, Mrs Hansen said.
"Stan first saw the lemon tree around 1989 and it was in a very bad way thanks to rats and possums ravishing the new shoots. Now it's obvious the programme to reduce the pests in the reserve has saved the lemon tree from extinction," she said.
Department of Conservation Bay of Islands area manager Rolien Elliot was "pretty certain" the lemon tree was the country's oldest, but the test to confirm its age would kill it.
It wasn't clear whether it was older than a pear tree at Kerikeri acknowledged as New Zealand's oldest introduced plant.
Ms Elliot said DoC has plans to propagate the lemon tree in time for the Hansen family bicentenary in 2014.
DoC historian Andrew Blanshard said the tree was likely to have come from the early settlers because the mission station wasn't occupied after 1832.
"Although it was farmed extensively, there was no evidence of a homestead in the area after 1832."
Rangihoua was the first place in New Zealand where there was prolonged contact between Maori and Pakeha before British colonisation. This made it one of the foundation sites of modern bicultural New Zealand, Mr Blanshard said.
"Marsden was invited to New Zealand by Ruatara, chief of Rangihoua, whom he met on board the ship, Anne.
"Ruatara sold the settlers some land next to Rangihoua pa for 12 hatchets so he could keep an eye on them," he said.
"The tangata whenua thought having missionaries gave them higher status as it would increase their chances of trade."
By 1832 the settlers had moved inland from the isolated peninsula to spread the word of God (Heuber, A., Northern Advocate, 2009).

Hueber, A. 2009, Jan 27. Northern Advocate 'Lemon could be oldest in NZ' accessed Feb 18, 2014

Single Tree Details

Genus: Citrus
Species: x limon
Common names: lemon,
Given Name: The Hansen Lemon Tree
Height: 4.00m
Height measurement method: Estimated
Height Comments: (none)
Girth: 0 cm
Girth measurement height: 0 m
Girth Comments: no measurement taken
Diameter: 0 cm
Crown Spread A: 3.00m
Crown Spread B: 3.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 3.00m
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date:
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: not known years
Tree Health Description: In good health
Tree Form Type: Multi-trunk
Number of Trunks: 6
Tree Form Comments: (none)
Champion Tree Score: 0
Local Protection Status: Yes
Tree Present: Yes
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
12 Aug 2014 Arthur, G.


Lat/Long: -35.16841420921097 / 174.0952739504623
Location Name: Rangihoua Heritage Park
Address: Oihi Road
City/Town: Te Tii
Region: Northland
Location Description: The lemon is beside a short loop track in the bushy area behind the grassy terraces of the European settlement.
Public Accessibility: Department of Conservation
Local Authority: Far North District Council


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