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Tree Information x

Identifier: TR/G1834
Tree Type: Group
Registered By: Smillie, M.J.
Registration Category: Notable tree/s – Local interest
General Notes:
Lucy's Gully, at the edge of Egmont National Park, near Oākura, is cloaked in local history, as well as the remnants of extensive forestry plantings from the early 1930s.

The gully is named after a local identity of the 19th and early 20th century: Ruhira Matekai, also known as Lucy Stevens. Matekai was born around 1820 in a whare (possibly part of the neighbouring pā, Te Ahuahu) next to Waimoku Stream, which flows down the lower slopes of the eroded Kaitake volcano and out to sea at Oākura itself. She moved from Ahuahu to Oākura Pa on her marriage, and would sell produce and crafts next to the nearby smithy on what is now Hau Lane. Upon the deaths of her husband and sons, she buried them back at her birthplace, and would spend a day in mourning at the gully on every anniversary of each passing, until she too was buried with them after her death in 1916. The gully, and Matekai Park in the center of Oākura, are named in her memory[1].

During the second Taranaki war, on the 6th of April 1864, a small British force, tasked with destroying crops of recently captured Māori pā, was ambushed by Pai Mārire fighters at Te Ahuahu, above the entrance to the gully: 9 British were killed, including the officer in charge, Captain Thomas Lloyd. His head, and those of the other dead, were taken for display and to agitate support for Pai Mārire around the North Island [2]. In a immediate response to the ambush, a larger British force chased the Pai Mārire up the ridge, via the gully, and to an abandoned pā near Patuha, the summit of the Kaitake ranges, with little effect[3]. Another military installation, a naval radar station (one of 19 built around the country) was put on the Te Ahuahu site during World War 2, disguised as a hostel. That was removed to Te Rapa near the wars end, and the site is now a private garden at the entrance to Lucy's Gully [4,5].

During the Great Depression years, in the early 1930s, Sir Victor Davies, the manager of the renowned Duncan and Davies nursery, and the Egmont National Park Board developed an employment scheme where around 120 ha of the scrubby north-west boundary of the Kaitake section of the park was planted for forestry, mainly in pine, with some Douglas fir and eucalyptus from Wairau Road southwards to Ahuahu Road. At the relatively sheltered Lucy's Gully, Davies decided to plant some 200 coast redwoods and a stand of macrocarpa as well as fir and eucalyptus[6]. The plantation pines were harvested in the 1960s and not replanted - the resultant re-growth on the lower northwest slopes of Kaitake next to SH45 is dominated by tree ferns. Remnants of the exotic plantings remain at the end of Wairau Road, and at Lucy's Gully.

Most of the 200 redwoods planted are still standing, next to a dense grove of macrocarpa. The bulk of the eucalyptus trees at the gully entrance were removed in 2020 due to concerns about safety[7], but the redwood grove is a locally beloved feature of the park, and will remain. The tallest measurable trees exceed 50 m, and the biggest are over 2 m dbh. The macrocarpa are also impressive - drawn tall, with narrow crowns, due to the dense planting. The tallest able to be measured by laser was around 47 m from eye height, from an obscured base to the tallest visible top - however this was revealed by significant wind-throw of neighbouring trees, suggesting the tall macrocarpa are somewhat vulnerable. In amongst the trees to the north of a small meadow is a memorial to Victor Davies.

Smillie, 2022

References:
1. R. Bartle, "Lucy of Lucy’s Gully", The Oakura Messenger, February 2006
2. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/pai-marire-ambush-at-oakura-taranaki
3. J. Cowan, THE NEW ZEALAND WARS: A HISTORY OF THE MAORI CAMPAIGNS AND THE PIONEERING PERIOD: VOLUME II: THE HAUHAU WARS, (1864–72), 1956, https://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cow02NewZ-c1.html
4. N. Prickett, Fortifications of the New Zealand Wars, Department of Conservation, 2016
5. http://www.ngamamakugarden.co.nz/site.htm
6. A. Jellyman, The Growing World of Duncan and Davies - A Horticultural History 1899-2010, 2011
7. Stratford Press, 9 July 2020, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/stratford-press/news/removal-of-unsafe-trees-in-egmont-national-park-benefits-taranaki-community/4QLAKP4XZN5TXPGJDQTDDCMZTQ/

Group Details

Group Type: Mixed species
Feature Tree Genus: Sequoia
Feature Tree Species: sempervirens
Feature Tree Common Names: redwood, coast redwood, California redwood
Additional Feature Tree Genus: Cupressus
Additional Feature Tree Common names: macrocarpa, Monterey cypress
Additional Feature Tree Species: macrocarpa
QE II Covenanted: No
NZ Indigenous Bush type: Default Value
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date: circa 1933
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 89 years
Tree Health Description: A number of the macrocarpa have suffered recent storm damage as of 2022
Local Protection Status: Yes
Tree Present: Yes
Number of Trees: 300
Area Covered: Approx. 4 ha
Group of Tree Type: Exotic Forest

Observations

Date Observer Action
09 Oct 2022 Smillie, M.J.

Location

Lat/Long: -39.149487593004324 / 173.94206694819334
Location Name: Lucy's Gully
Address: Upper Ahu Ahu Road
Suburb:
City/Town: Oākura
Region: Taranaki
Location Description: Access to the gully is along a narrow, potholed sealed road at the end of Upper Ahu Ahu road. The Waimoku track to the summit goes through the redwoods, with the macrocarpa stand to the southeast side.
Public Accessibility: Department of Conservation
Local Authority: New Plymouth District Council

Images

Preview Credit Date
Matt Smillie 09 Oct 2022
Matt Smillie 09 Oct 2022
Matt Smillie 09 Oct 2022
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