Eastwoodhill Arboretum

Eastwoodhill is the national arboretum of New Zealand since 2005. It covers 131 ha and is located 35 km. northwest of Gisborne, in the hill country of Ngatapa. It was founded 1910 by William Douglas Cook. It would become the life-work of Douglas Cook to build a giant collection of trees of the temperate climate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. It became a dream that would cost him all his money. He bought thousands of trees from English and New Zealand nurseries.

When in the 1960s his health deteriorated, he sold his property to H. B. (Bill) Williams, who established the Eastwoodhill Trust Board in 1975 as a charitable trust. He donated the arboretum to the Trust in order to safeguard it for future generations.

Of all the arboreta of the Southern Hemisphere, Eastwoodhill Arboretum is said to have the largest collection of trees of the temperate climate zone of the Northern Hemisphere.The collection includes some 4000 different trees, shrubs and climbers.


William Douglas Cook

The history of Eastwoodhill arboretum is indissolubly connected with the life of William Douglas Cook (1884 - 1967). Douglas Cook was born October 28, 1884 at New Plymouth. In 1910 he established a farm of 250 hectares in the Ngatapa settlement. He called the property Eastwoodhill. He at once started planting trees, but also roses, flowers and vegetables. Seeds of trees and shrubs were purchased and sown.

During the first World War, Cook volunteered to serve in the army. In France he lost the sight of his right eye and stayed in Scotland with his family to recover. He was inspired by the gardens and parks of England and came in contact with Sir Arthur William Hill, who would later become director of Kew Gardens.

In 1918, back at Eastwoodhill, Douglas Cook started planting thousands of "Pinus radiata" for wood production and for fire-wood. He also planted "Eucalyptus viminalis" en "E. macarthurii". Douglas Cook also started creating the parks, with, among others, "Platanus orientalis", different kinds of "Ulmus", "Acer pseudoplatanus" and "A. platanoides". In this year the Lombardy poplars were planted alongside “Poplar Avenue” up the Main Entrance drive. In 1919 he ordered 1,996 trees and shrubs and in 1920 a total of 3,387, of which some two and a half thousand trees and shrubs for the garden. The plantings included "Cabbage Tree Avenue", restored in 2006.
Planting was interrupted then for journeys to England in 1922 and 1924 but in 1926 the garden was extended with thousands of tulips, hyacinths and peonies from the Netherlands.

In 1927 Bill Crooks started working at Eastwoodhill. He would stay there for 47 years. He did most of the farming, so Cook had more time for his beloved trees. The planting of the "parks" (parts of what is nowadays the arboretum) started around 1927. Around this time serious collecting began. Through the years the number of plant specimen collected reached immense proportions. About 5000 different taxa were collected, at large costs.

In the 1920s he could still expand his property but in the mid-fifties, Cook had to sell convert|925|acre|km2, to get some money for planting new trees in the "Circus" park.

At the end of his life, Douglas Cook had invested all his money in the arboretum. In 1965 he had a heart attack. He died April 27, 1967.

H.B. (Bill) Williams

Although Eastwoodhill in the 1960s was often praised for its important collection of plants, many people got worried about the future. Especially when Douglas Cook got old and had health problems. In 1965 Heathcote Beetham Williams (referred to as H. B. (Bill) Williams, an entrepreneur from Gisborne, bought the property off Cook with the intention to keep the collection in order, and to guarantee that everyone with interests in plants and trees will be able to visit the arboretum in the future.

Eastwoodhill Trust Board

In 1975 the “Eastwoodhill Trust Act” passed parliament and the Eastwoodhill Trust Board could be founded. Next, H. B. Williams donated Eastwoodhill to the Board. In 1994 the Act was slightly adapted.

De Trust Board now has 6 members who represent the following institutions:
* Poverty Bay Horticultural Society
* East Coast Farm Forestry Association
* Gisborne District Council
* Williams Family
* Friends of Eastwoodhill
* Ministry of Conservation

The objectives of the Trust Board are, according to the Act:
* “to maintain and develop Eastwoodhill as an arboretum”.
* “so far as it is consistent with its primary function (...) to make Eastwoodhill available to the public for its education and recreation”.

Management and curators

* Until 1974 Bill Crooks was manager of the arboretum.
* From 1974 to 1982 his task was done by Dan Weatherall.
* 1982 Kevin Boyce was nominated curator. He was curator till 1985.
* 1985 - 2001 Gary Clapperton was curator.
* from 2001 until now Paul Wynen, Dipl. Arb. is curator. Maurice Hall is appointed as manager.


Douglas Cook brought a total number of about 5,000 different species and cultivars of trees, shrubs and climbers to Eastwoodhill. A lot of them were imported from well known English nurseries like Hillier's, Veitch's and Slococks. He also bought many from nurseries in New Zealand like Duncan and Davies in New Plymouth and Harrison's in Palmerston North.

The main focus of the collection is still the trees, shrubs and climbers from the Northern Hemisphere, but nowadays Eastwoodhill has a large collection of native trees, too.

The first catalogues

In the beginning of the 1970s the first catalogue of trees, shrubs and climbers were prepared by Bob Berry. It contained 3000 different taxa. After the first version of 1972 the catalogue would remain the responsibility of Bob Berry until 1986.


The most important genera at Eastwoodhill are:
* Camellia, with about 270 taxa
* Rhododendron, 220 + 250 azaleas
* Acer, 90 taxa
* Quercus, 80
* Prunus, 80
* Pinus, with 35 taxa
* Magnolia, 40
* Malus, about 50
* Abies, 30
* Sorbus, 44
* Juniperus, 30

Parts of the arboretum

The arboretum is divided into a number of Parks. Each of these parks has its own style and name.

The flat parts are:
* Corner Park, the first park that was systematically planted by Douglas Cook from 1927 onwards.
* Burnside
* Pear Park, planted by Douglas Cook since1950.
* The Circus, planted since 1959.

Steep hills and valleys one finds in:
* Cabin Park, planted by Douglas Cook since 1934.
* Douglas Park, partly planted by Douglas Cook in 1945 (Basinhead and Blackwater in 1961).
* Orchard Hill, planted since 1955.
* Glen Douglas, the last area that Douglas Cook started in 1963 when he was 79 years old.
* Springfield
* Mexico Way
* Canaan
* Turihaua Park
* Three Kings
* Millennial Wood


* Berry, John - "A Man's Tall Dream; The Story of Eastwoodhill": Gisborne 1997
* Clapperton, Gerry - "The Story of William Douglas Cook": Gisborne 1992
* Wynen, Paul - "Plant collection strategic plan": Gisborne 2003(?) (internal document of Eastwoodhill Arboretum)
* "Eastwoodhill Trust Act 1975" & "Eastwoodhill Trust Amendment Act 1994"

External links

* [http://www.eastwoodhill.org.nz The website of Eastwoodhill]

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