Blossom Queen float, 1964

The search is on for former Hastings ‘Blossom Queens’ in the hope that some  can reunite as guests of honour for commemoration events, including a special Blossom Parade celebrating Hasting’s 150th birthday, 

The township of Hastings was founded in 1873, and Hastings District Council is currently planning the best way to celebrate the milestone to provide meaningful and uplifting opportunities to reflect and kōrero on our history, culture, people, and memorable moments in time.   

The 150th commemoration will be officially recognised over the weekend of July 7-9 with fun, family activities. Further 150th-themed community events and attractions will take place over the following months, culminating in the Blossom Festival on the weekend of September 22-24.

Arts Inc Heretaunga’s Blossom Parade organiser Lyn Mackie says that this year’s parade would be themed ‘Our Hastings’ so float entries can celebrate their connection to Hastings past or present. 

Former blossom Queens who want to be involved with the parade and/or 150th celebrations are asked to get in touch with Hastings District Council at

The Hastings Blossom Festival was started in 1950 according to Te Ara Encyclopaedia,  “to attract visitors to the city, and to show up its nearby rival, Napier. 

“The festival  celebrates the beginning of the fruit-growing season. The highlight is the parade of floats decorated with real or artificial blossoms. In 1957 a Queen Carnival was held. The Blossom Queen rode on one of the floats.” 

According to a newspaper article on Knowledge Bank, Shona MacDonald (married name Holdgate) won the Blossom Queen title ahead of 12 others in 1957. 

The crowning of the Blossom Queen tradition continued until 1972 when the title was renamed the Hawke’s Bay Blossom Queen. The Blossom Parade went into recess a year later in 1973.  

A Blossom Festival was resurrected in Hastings and in 1999 a reunion of the original Blossom Queens was organised. See

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says that while the history of our city and district extends far beyond 1873, this is a chance to acknowledge and remember past events and people who had contributed to making Hastings district the unique, special place that it is today. 

“This commemoration is particularly poignant in light of the recent devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.  

“We can draw strength from reflecting on the challenges and significant events of our history, and how our community has pulled together in times of need. Knowing that Hastings has overcome challenges in the past inspires us to know that we will recover now and build back better and stronger.” 

Local businesses, community groups, sports clubs, schools, and other organisations are invited to join in and take the opportunity to support the wellbeing and vibrancy of our community, and celebrate their part in our history.   

Find out more about what’s on, how to volunteer, organising or supporting an event at or email project manager Emma Buttle

Read BayBuzz’s story on the mystery of Hastings’ founding father here

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


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1 Comment

  1. My Cousin Susan Harvey was the Blossom Queen in 1968.
    After much haranguing from me, she has agreed to be identified and willing to share details! She is living in Melbourne, is now called Suzie Ireland, and is crushing it on the golf course with a hole in one last week at The National golf course in Melbourne.

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