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Tree Information x

Identifier: MWR/G1887
Tree Type: Group
Registered By: Lloyd, M.
Registration Category: Notable tree/s – Local interest
General Notes:
This large collection of 36 Phoenix canariensis planted in 2 groups, is a significant historical connection to the Kimberley Centre, which in the 1980s was the ‘largest intellectually-handicapped hospital in the southern hemisphere’ [1]. Founded in 1945, prior to which the site had been a Royal New Zealand Air Force Station for pilot training, the Kimberly centre grew rapidly but then went through decline associated with a movement to deinstitutionalise the treatment of mental illness. The palms were planted circa 1960 (see aerial photo below), and were retained as a significant feature of the grounds when a local business family bought the vacant site in 2014 [2] to develop the Speldhurst Country Estate. Speldhurst is a country lifestyle and retirement village, which ultimately will contain up to 500 homes. The Phoenix palms, along with other exotic trees, are well regarded by the residents, management, and groundstaff. Only one palm was removed for house-building and current development of other facilities ensures the palms are left untouched. The head arborist confirmed that whereas the palms require routine maintenance they are likely to remain ‘in perpetuity’ [3] as a significant arboreal feature of the southern Horowhenua landscape. They are in very good condition with an average height of about 10 metres. The typical image of palms in a seacoast setting is transformed in this case when the Tararua ranges provide a snow-clad backdrop, but even in summer the collection of palms makes a significant sight amongst the houses and grounds of Speldhurst.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Fiona McGregor, Village Manager, and Richard Brown, arborist, at Speldhurst Country Estate for providing useful information.

[1] Anne Hunt (2005), ‘Kimberley Centre 60th anniversary’ , Scoop Independent News, Thursday, 28 July, 2005.
[2] Harris, Catherine (2016) ‘Kimberley Centre transformed into country retirement village’, March 18, 2016.
[3] Richard Brown, personal communication, April 28, 2023.

Group Details

Group Type: Single species
Feature Tree Genus: Phoenix
Feature Tree Species: canariensis
Feature Tree Common Names: Canary Island date palm, phoenix palm
QE II Covenanted: No
NZ Indigenous Bush type: Default Value
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date: circa 1960
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 64 years
Tree Health Description: very good
Local Protection Status: No
Tree Present: Yes
Number of Trees: 36
Area Covered: 500 metres
Group of Tree Type: Amenity Planting


Date Observer Action
28 Apr 2023 Lloyd, M.


Lat/Long: -40.65377259989764 / 175.2755324840546
Location Name: Speldhurst Country Estate
Address: 70 Kimberley Rd
City/Town: Levin
Region: Manawatu
Location Description: On the fastest route between Wellington and Palmerston North. Speldhurst Estate can be driven through.
Public Accessibility: Rural-Residential
Local Authority: Horowhenua District Council


Preview Credit Date
Michael Lloyd 28 Apr 2023
Michael Lloyd 28 Apr 2023
Michael Lloyd 28 Apr 2023
Speldhurst Country Estate
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