Thames-Hauraki Branch: William Hall Memorial Reserve Update

23 Jul 2009

William Hall Memorial Reserve: Activities Jan-Mar 2005

The present quarter has been one of consolidation of the progress made in 2004 when TCDC allocated $35,000 for the survey and fencing of the Reserve, and the School of Arboriculture of Wintec included field work at Hall's as part of its curriculum for its years 1-3 students.

Currently, an ongoing Council (TCDC) committee has been drafting a Management Plan for the Reserves of Thames and its coast. Provision has been made within this plan for a tighter legal foundation for Hall's as a historic and recreational feature of the district.

The new document recognises the need to safeguard the trees and allows for the future provision of walking tracks within the Reserve. A more direct and stronger management structure is also being considered, to ensure the security of the trees themselves which are of national importance.

The Council has just completed a boundary survey at a cost of $7,500, and is negotiating with a fencing contractor for a new fence to go around the main part of the Reserve. The block south of Mt Sea Rd , through steep and difficult terrain, will not be covered in this year's programme.

Meanwhile more anecdotal information on the history of Hall's is coming to hand. Graeme Platt has drawn attention to “Tree Culture in NZ” by H J Matthews, Chief Forester, Government Printer, Wellington , 1905. Matthews records the growth records of kauri, puriri, matai, totara, miro, rimu, kawaka and tanekaha which had been planted by Hall some 30 years previously. The kawaka, even then 24 feet high, has not been found in our present inventory and may, sadly, have been lost. Hall presumably kept extensive records in his Thames library but these cannot be traced and may be considered as lost.

Hall promoted information on NZ trees in England . He mailed seeds to many places including Tresco Abbey Gardens , in the frost-free Scilly Islands off Cornwall .

In a follow-up on this a comment has come from Monica Leat in the UK :

“ Carolyn Melling from Landsendt, Oratia, has forwarded me the latest details that you sent out on Dec 6th re the HALL RESERVE. She and I are in regular correspondence on the subject of family history and J.W.HALL in particular as I am descended from his sister's line in England . I am writing to congratulate all concerned with what has already been achieved towards saving his arboretum and also to comment on the Tresco Gardens collection. Two years ago I wrote to the curator there myself, giving the background story as Carol yn had sent me copies of some of J.W.H.'s letters. Unfortunately I drew a blank. They said they have no hard records relating to seeds etc., sent by him although they are sure that I was correct in saying that he did so. I shall be interested to hear if you or Graeme Platt have better luck. We shall follow your progress on the Reserve with great interest. Yours sincerely, Monica Leat Old Forge Nursery, Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire , HR9 6JD , UK ”

Earlier this year another message, on a different aspect of Hall, has been received.

“I am a researcher with Forest Research, based in Rotorua. I am currently researching the performance of planted native trees, in particular kauri and totara, and have recently become aware of John William Hall's Arboretum at Parawai. I am seeking information on the number of trees within the Arboretum and if there is sufficient number of kauri and totara. I would be most interested in assessing their performance, by establishing some growth plots, and adding the information to the databases that we maintain for these species. The establishment of permanent plots would be at the discretion of the Arboretum governing body and all assessments would be non-invasive of the trees. There is considerable interest within the wider community for establishing native trees, for a range of outcomes, and the ability to measure trees planted on the 1870's would be a considerable boost to our research programme. Any measurement of the stand would be available to the Arboretum governing body.. Greg Steward”

We have included these two lengthy quotations because they perhaps have a value in showing the re-awakening of interest in Hall's Reserve. Its restoration to its proper place as part of NZ's

botanical history and of Thames heritage is a large task and will take many years. After all, in the last 2-3 years we have worked only on the very accessible 1.08 hectares that form its lower part.. Another 8.15 ha above and beyond this have scarcely been looked at and await our examination.


The newly elected/re-elected Councillors of TCDC have continued to support the restoration of Hall's. Pub Charity continues its financing which has enabled Wintec students of arboriculture to cover their accommodation and transport costs for travel to Thames . Local helpers including some living on the boundary of the Reserve have contributed to its maintenance.

Comments on the programme are invited to be sent to Forest and Bird Thames or to (Ken Clark)