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Tree Information x

Identifier: WGR/G1903
Tree Type: Group
Registered By: Lloyd, M.
Registration Category: Notable tree/s – Local interest
General Notes:
Rotokawau Virginia Lake was from the 1910s a focal point in Whanganui for the joint efforts of the Wanganui Beautifying Society and official parks and gardens staff to merge in establishing a garden to equal that of larger New Zealand cities. Clearly influenced by the likes of Auckland’s Albert Park and Ellerslie Gardens, a variety of palms in groups were planted, including this significant group of Phoenix palms. Having both a lake and sloping hills surrounding it [see photo 1], the site proved perfect for garden development. From the 1920s palm seeds were sourced in Australia by Mr James McGregor, a prominent member of the Wanganui Beautifying Society, and then were grown on by the city gardener, Mr Tucker [2]. The palms were planted out in 1924 [3] in a row alongside a waterside walk, with three others planted a little distance away, including a spot featuring a whalebone arch (no longer present, but see photo below [4]). The gardens quickly became a local beauty spot where both tourists and locals would take the chance for a good ‘photo op’ before proceeding to either Whanganui town centre to the south, or northwards to New Plymouth. The garden also has many other types of palms, but the row of Phoenix are clearly the largest and occupy a prime visual position along the lakeside and main highway.

Lloyd, M., 2023

Acknowledgements: For help with sources, many thanks to Jasmin Ratana of Whanganui Library, and Sandi Black, Whanganui Regional Museum.

1. Wanganui, view of Virginia Lake and Brassey Road with residential housing, Aramoho and the Whanganui River and farmland beyond. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-37608-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23525246
2. ‘Wanganui Beautifying Society: Annual Report’, The Wanganui Chronicle, Wednesday March 9, 1921.
3. ‘Wanganui Beautifying Society: Annual Report’, The Wanganui Chronicle, Tuesday June 10, 1924.
4. ‘Virginia Gardens showing whalebone arch’, Memories of Old Wanganui: A Picture Book of Earlier Times, Whanganui: H & A Design Print, 1996. (photo circa 1935)

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: 1924
Approx. Planting Date:
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: 100 years
Tree Health Description: very good
Local Protection Status: No
Tree Present: Yes
Number of Trees: 13
Area Covered: 500 metres
Group of Tree Type: Amenity Planting


Date Observer Action
18 Jul 2023 Lloyd, M.


Lat/Long: -39.91567552653626 / 175.0331117510796
Location Name: Rotokawau Virginia Lake
Address: Great North Rd
Suburb: St Johns Hill
City/Town: Whanganui
Region: Wanganui
Location Description: Large garden park with small lake on main road North out of Whanganui
Public Accessibility: Local Council Park
Local Authority: Wanganui District Council


Preview Credit Date
Michael Lloyd 05 Jul 2023
Michael Lloyd 05 Jul 2023
Michael Lloyd 05 Jul 2023
Leslie Adkin/Museum of New Zealand 05 Jan 1956
Whites Aviation WA-37608-F 06 Apr 1955
H & A Design & Print
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