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Napier's treesNgā rākau o Ahuriri

It’s estimated over 20,000 trees inhabit Napier’s public spaces. They play an important role by enhancing neighbourhoods, providing shade, shelter, and softening the built environment. That’s why, in this section, we’ve profiled some of our most notable woody perennials.

brisbane boxTrees play an important role in Napier, enhancing the city's streets, providing shade and shelter and softening the built environment.

A survey done in 1999 recorded approximately 18,600 trees in the city's public spaces - 6600 on road reserves and 12,000 trees on recreation reserves, sports grounds and cemeteries.

Those highlighted in this section are particularly deserving of attention. They include trees worthy of legal protection to ensure their ongoing survival.

Notable Trees

As well as their aesthetic appeal, trees on Napier's reserves and cemeteries have a value based on factors that include:

  • species
  • age
  • condition
  • rarity
  • position
  • historical or cultural associations.

The underlying value is the cost of replacement - the cost of purchasing a new young tree of the appropriate species and variety, as well as planting and supporting costs.

The added value as a tree matures is the accumulated costs of seasonal water, pruning, spraying and general care. As a tree grows and becomes an integral part of the landscape, it also gains values relating to its size, quality and the way in which it enhances the environment.

For some trees, the aggregated value can be very high. This may be highlighted when the tree's importance is considered against competing values - street widening, for example, or building redevelopment.

The valuation method used by the Napier City Council is outlined in the STEM Manual (Standard Tree Evaluation Method, Ron Flook, 1966, ISBN: 0-473-04039.5)

Protected Trees

Trees or groups of trees that should be protected by a Preservation Order. Sited on public land, these trees are considered worthy of preservation for one or both of the following reasons:

  • The tree makes a significant contribution to the visual amenity of the area.
  • The tree is a notable large specimen of its species within the city area.

Noteworthy Trees

Noteworthy street trees within the city for their aesthetic value.

Notable trees of Ahuriri

rataNorthern Rata, Metrosideros robusta
Location: West Quay
Significance: Uncommon in Hawke's Bay

Northern Rata are very uncommon in Hawke's Bay. This tree was unwittingly included in a planting of Pohutakawa trees along the inner harbour quay in the mid 1950s.

The species are related. They both have leathery leaves and produce a flush of scarlet flowers around December/New Year, which gives the more common Pohutawaka its proud title - the New Zealand Christmas Tree.

Today, the Rata's finer foliage and different growth habit are beginning to distinguish it from the neighbouring Pohutakawa along West Quay. Rata can be found in high rainfall forests throughout the North Island but browsing by possums has reduced its range. Pohutakawa favour a coastal location.

The efforts of Project Crimson are reversing the decline of the 12 Metrosideros species, which includes Rata and Pohutakawa.


Notable trees of Marewa

red river gumRed-flowering Gum, Corymbia ficifolia
Location: Tom Parker Avenue
Significance: Aesthetic Value

Widely held to be the most beautiful of all the flowering eucalypts, these trees were donated by Tom Parker, a well-known Napier businessman who also served his community as a councillor. The Tom Parker Fountain in the Marine Parade Gardens was another of Mr Parker's gifts to the city.

Lining both sides of Tom Parker Avenue, the gums put on a spectacular display when they flower in December/January, and their pitcher-shaped nuts make them an attractive addition to the street at any time of year.

The Red-flowering Gum can grow up to 10 metres high, but the trees tend to be small along the western end of the street, due in part to less favourable soil conditions in the area at the time of planting.

magnolia grandifloraSouthern MagnoliaMagnolia grandiflora
Location: Corner of Georges Drive and Thistle Street
Significance: Specimen tree and its size

This large well-balanced specimen was probably planted on the corner of these two streets sometime around 1930, making it well over 70 years old.

Originating from the southern USA, the Southern Magnolia is an evergreen species that produces cup-shaped white blooms with a strong citrus scent from mid-summer to early autumn, followed by red-brown cones. Moderately frost hardy, the tree prefers warm climates and moist soils.

Clearly, this tree has found conditions to its liking in Napier South. It was nominated for preservation status in the late 1970s, and the council acquired the tree and surrounding land from Miss C M Berry of 99 Georges Drive. The site is vested as road reserve

Notable trees of Napier Hill

pinus canariensis 1Canary Island Pine, Pinus canariensis
Location: France Road Reserve, Napier Hill
Significance: Botanical interest

Unfortunately, the four large specimens of this species at the top of the France Road Reserve are not easily seen from the road. More than 90 years old, they are included in a collection of exotic trees on this site, gifted to the city in 1942 by Mrs F J Smith.

As the name suggests, these elegant evergreen trees with their attractively patterned bark are native to the Canary Islands, off the Atlantic coast of North Africa.

This subtropical species is adapted to places that experience lengthy dry periods. In the Canary Islands, the trees grow at altitudes of 1000-2000 metres.

gordoniaGordonia, Gordonia axillaris
Location: Botanical Gardens
Significance: Botanical interest

In Napier's Botanical Gardens and planted some 60 years ago, this evergreen tree is a species that originates in southern China. It has attractive dappled orange-brown bark and glossy, dark green leaves.

The flowers are up to 10cms across with white wavy-edged petals and a prominent clump of golden stamens.


japanese sagoJapanese Sago PalmCycas revoluta
Location: Botanical Gardens
Significance: Botanical interest

This slow-growing Cycad from southern Japan can live for 50-100 years. The tree in the Botanical Gardens was planted more than 60 years ago.

Popular for its landscaping qualities, the Japanese Sago Palm is the most widely cultivated Cycad species in the world.

white teaKanuka, Kunzea ericoides
Location: Botanical Gardens
Significance: Large specimen

Sometimes called the White Tea Tree, Kanuka isn't as widely recognised as its close cousin, Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium). This may be because Manuka bears showy red flowers, aided by the efforts of plant hybridists. Manuka appear in variety in many private and public gardens.

Grown to maturity as a specimen, Kanuka has an airy open canopy form and an attractive fissured bark.

The Kanuka in the Botanical Gardens, more than 50 years old, is probably Napier's largest.

mexican grassMexican Grass Plant, Dasylirion longissimum
Location: Botanical Gardens
Significance: Botanical interest

An interesting plant not common in New Zealand, this specimen, more than 60 years old, is in the Botanical Gardens. As its name suggests, it is a native of Mexico and it thrives in dry conditions.

The Mexican Grass Plant produces spires of white flowers similar to yuccas, plants that are also members of the lily family (Lillaceae).

norfolk pine pohutukawaNorfolk Island PineAraucaria heterophyllia and PohutukawaMetrosideros excelsa
Location: Corner of Marine Parade and Coote Road
Significance: Their location and historical association

The four Norfolk Island Pines and three Pohutukawa marking the northern end of Marine Parade carry a preservation status because of their important association with the early history of the area.

Looking north, the trees form a bold mass, concealing the view of the rocky face of Bluff Hill where it overlooks the Napier port. Seen further up Coote Road, the group forms a closure at the foot of the gully. The Pohutukawa provide an understorey of foliage, giving a dense lateral base to the group, while the Norfolk Island Pines thrust up in counterpoint.

The trees occupy a triangular site set aside as a reserve sometime in the 1880s. A photograph dated 1889, held by the Hawke's Bay Museum, shows them enclosed by an elaborate picket fence.

Council archives provide no record of the reserve's purpose. However, a Maori source has claimed that the site originally had a commemorative stone or urupa erected to mark the agreement of Tareha Te Moananui of Ngati Kahugnunu to the transfer of the Napier Hill to the Crown.

There appears to be a stone or wooden obelisk in the 1889 photograph. No trace of this artifact remains today. If the claim is correct, then the trees on the site today represent the only tangible link with this event in the early European history of the area and they therefore have an important historical association.

red river gum synRed-flowering GumCorymbia ficifolia
Location: Botanical Gardens
Significance: Large specimen

More than 65 years old, this Australian native is a larger-than-usual specimen and may be a hybrid between Corymbia ficifolia and Corymbia calophylla, which are very similar in appearance. The seed capsules are almost indistinguishable between the two species.

Napier's Botanical Garden provides its preferred growing conditions - a coastal location, full sun, well-drained soil and no frosts.

Many regard the Red-flowering Gum as the most attractive of all the flowering eucalypts. It produces large clusters of scarlet to orange flowers in late spring to summer and pitcher-shaped nuts.

Notable trees of Napier South

Blue Atlas Cedar: Cedrus atlantica glaucablue atlas
Location: Clive Square
Significance: Medium to large specimen

A large growing species, the Blue Atlas Cedar is rarely allowed to grow to maturity on private properties. This medium to large-sized tree in Clive Square is more than 65 years old. The largest specimen in a city reserve, its shape is marred by the Canary Island Date Palm growing alongside.

This species is native to the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco.

monkey puzzleBunya-Bunya PineAraucaria bidwillii
Location: Nelson Park
Significance: Specimen

More than 70 years old, the specimen in Nelson Park is well-shaped, displaying the Bunya-Bunya Pine's characteristically straight central trunk and dome or umbrella-shaped canopy with spoke-like branches.

Araucarias are an ancient genus of evergreen trees found in South America, Australia and several Pacific Islands. Named for the Arauco Indians of central Chile who live in the native territory of the same name, Araucaria bidwillii is at home in eastern South America, from Chile south to Tierra del Fuego.

canary island palmsCanary Island Date Palm, Phoenix carnariensis
Location: Kennedy Road
Significance: Aesthetic Value

A major arterial route, the section of Kennedy Road closest to downtown Napier - Wellesley Road to Georges Drive - was originally planted with Plane trees.

In 1926, the Thirty Thousand Club formed the grass plots flanking the road and in 1929 the club donated Phoenix carnariensis, which were planted between the Plane trees. The palms were much admired, and in 1939 the Planes were removed. By 1943, the palms extended out to Greenmeadows.

When the suburbs of Onekawa and Pirimai were developed south of Riverbend Road, the construction of a dual carriageway road necessitated the removal of the palms flanking the original line of road.


himalayan cedarHimalayan Cedar, Cedrus deodara
Location: Clive Square
Significance: Medium to large specimen

Like the Blue Atlas Cedar on the adjoining lawn, the Himalayan Cedar is rarely allowed to grow to full size in private gardens. This good-sized specimen is more than 65 years old and can be easily seen by the public.

Deodar Cedars are native to the western Himalayas. They are now almost extinct over much of their original range because of the felling of trees for timber and firewood.

mexican handMexican Hand Tree, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon
Location: Clive Square
Significance: Botanical, showy flowers

Also in Clive Square and comparatively young at 15 years old, this unusual tree is native to Mexico and Guatemala.

The Mexican Hand Tree produces flowers from the leaf axils in summer. Dull red, they are about 8cm across and have a furry brown outside. The five red and yellow fused stamens protrude up to 15cm. Huge yellow anthers resemble claw-like fingers.

The genus name Chiranthodendron is from the Greek, meaning "hand flower tree".

metrosidros excelsaPohutukawa, Metrosideros excelsa
Location: Corner of Carnell and Jull Streets
Significance: Its location and size

This tree occupies a commanding position on the corner of two streets. Its spread and bulk make a strong visual impression on the locality. It is one of the largest pohutukawa trees in a public place in the city.

The tree was planted in the garden of the property on the corner and probably dates from before 1920. (The Napier South suburb was developed from 1910 onwards.)

Up until the late 1960s, the tree was kept severely trimmed across the top to ensure it cleared overhead power lines. Despite the hard treatment it remains a large tree with a substantial trunk and lower branches.

When power services were undergrounded, the owners of the property were keen to see the tree preserved so it was agreed with the Council that the boundary wall be realigned across the corner leaving the tree standing in the road reserve. Remedial pruning was carried out and the canopy allowed to grow to its natural shape.

prickly cycadPrickly CycadEncephalartos transvenosus
Location: Clive Square
Significance: Large specimen

This is the largest of several specimen Cycads gracing Clive Square.

Very slow growing plants, Cycads are found in South America, Africa, India, Southeast Asia and parts of Australasia. The family is botanically interesting for having survived basically unchanged for 170-180 million years.

Prickly Cycad comes from the East Cape and Transkei areas of South Africa. Both male and female plants bear showy golden yellow cones. This fine example is more than 80 years old.

puririPuriri, Vitex lucens
Location: Morris Street
Significance: Aesthetic Value

This is the only large group of Puriri in the city. There is no record of exactly when they were planted, but it was possibly around 1935 and done in conjunction with the dedication of the Memorial Wall and gates on the McLean Park boundary of the street in late 1934.

The group comprises 16 of these native evergreen trees. Frost hardy, most continue in good health although some are showing repressed foliage, probably as a result of the ground being compacted around their roots.

From late winter to mid-spring, racemes of red, tulip-like flowers appear in profusion among the fern-like foliage forming the broad convex crowns of these trees.

senegal date palmSenegal Date Palm, Phoenix reclinata
Location: Nelson Park
Significance: Botanical, uncommon

The Senegal Date Palm usually forms a clump of stems, and this group in Nelson Park, planted more than 65 years ago, typifies the species' growth habit.

In New Zealand, the palms are seldom seen outside botanical gardens, so this location in a Napier park is unusual.

Notable trees of Poraiti

japanese pagodaPagoda Tree, Sophora japonica
Location: Wharerangi Cemetery
Significance: Uncommon species

Having had to compete against other trees for space, this specimen in the Wharerangi Cemetery is not the best example. Aged 40-plus years, it is, however, the largest Pagoda Tree to be found on a city reserve.

Native, to Japan, China and Korea, this deciduous tree's white flowers are borne on long panicles, followed by pods resembling bead necklaces.

water gumWater Gum, Tristaniopsis laurina
Location: Wharerangi Cemetery
Significance: Uncommon species

Found in Wharerangi Cemetery, this attractive small tree, more than 40 years old, is a native of eastern Australia.

It has a smooth creamy brown trunk and while the foliage is glossy green, new leaves emerge pinkish. In summer, it boasts clusters of deep yellow flowers - nectar-rich blossoms that attract the bees.

white kurrajong 1White Kurrajong, Brachychiton populneum
Location: Wharerangi Cemetery
Significance: Botanical interest

Uncommon in New Zealand, this fine young example of the Australian native was planted in the Wharerangi Cemetery more than 35 years ago.

The Kurrajong is commonly seen as a street tree in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. A bushy-headed evergreen, it makes a good shade tree. Australian farmers also use it as fodder supplement during droughts.

Notable trees of Taradale

aleppo pineAleppo Pine, Pinus halepensis
Location: Taradale Cemetery
Significance: Cultural and historical

During the First World War, ANZAC troops battled Turkish forces to gain a foothold on the stony ridges of the Gallipoli peninsula. In 1915, an Aleppo Pine crowning a particular spur entered ANZAC folklore. Known as "The Lone Pine", it became a symbol of the sacrifices made during the brutal struggle.

Seed was gathered from the tree, and saplings were planted at the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra.

The tree on the upper slope of the Taradale Cemetery was raised from a batch of seed taken from a Canberra tree, making it a direct descendant of the original tree at Gallipoli.


black peppermintBlack Peppermint, Eucalyptus salicifolia
Location: Drainage Reserve, Puketapu Road
Significance: Their location and size

Two large, single-trunked trees stand on the side of the Taipo Stream where it runs beside Puketapu Road in Taradale.

Erroneously known locally as Ghost Gums, the foliage of these stately beauties tells the real story of their lineage. The "salicifolia" in Eucalyptus salicifolia means having leaves like a willow (salix).

Natives of Tasmania, the Black Peppermint can attain great size in favoured parts of New Zealand, particularly in good soils where there is adequate rainfall. The soil and the nearby water source have enabled these trees, probably more than 80 years old, to grow particularly well.

The eucalypts have been granted preservation status because they are good mature examples of their species and they significantly add to the area's attractiveness.

brisbane boxBrisbane Box, Lophostemon confertus
Location: Taradale Cemetery
Significance: Botanical

A well-shaped specimen stands in a prominent position away from other trees in Taradale Cemetery. This is still a young tree, planted in the early 1970s. In its native territories of Queensland and New South Wales, it grows over 30 metres tall.

Although it has seed capsules resembling those common among Eucalyptus species, the Brisbane or Bush Box is a close relative of New Zealand's Pohutakawa (Metrosideros excelsa).

italian cypressItalian Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens var sempervirens
Location: Park Island Cemetery
Significance: Large specimens

A line of Italian Cypresses was planted around 1917 to define one side of the Catholic section of Park Island Cemetery.

Since at least the Bronze Age, western societies have used evergreen trees as symbols of everlasting life. The Italian Cypress, with its distinctive columnar form, has been a feature of European burial sites since the Roman Empire expanded out from the shores of the Mediterranean two millennia ago.

plum fruited yewPlum-fruited YewPrumnopitys andina
Location: Park Island Cemetery
Significance: Uncommon species

In the Park Island Cemetery, this tree was raised from seed obtained from Adelaide Botanic Gardens, South Australia, in 1960. It is the only known specimen in Napier.

The Plum-fruited Yew is an alpine tree found in altitudes of 1200-1800 metres in the Andes mountains of southern Chile.


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