Keirunga is dear to my heart, I walk here almost daily with my dogs and I find peace and beauty in this historically significant reserve located so close to my home.

I am therefore impressed and delighted that Hastings District Council has put serious thought and considerable effort into the 2020 Keirunga Gardens draft reserve management plan and have come up with a holistic concept that I think will please other Keirunga-lovers as well. The Plan was recently adopted by council for consultation purposes and is open for feedback and consultation until 18 December.

The 2020 plan is a result of the review into the rejection by the community of the 2019 Keirunga Gardens draft management plan that focused primarily on revitalizing the Arthur’s Path area and contentiously proposed the removal of the oaks to be replaced with an arboretum-like tree planting plan.

By contrast, the 2020 plan is comprehensive and encompasses the whole site, integrating the history of Keirunga and its place in the cultural life of early Havelock North when it was owned by the Gardiners and then the Nelsons who were linked to the Havelock Work, an arts and cultural movement that was unique in rural New Zealand at that time.

In focusing on the cultural values of Keirunga, the plan seeks to enhance and protect the heritage values of the 1907 Homestead that was gifted in the late 1950s/early 1950s by George and Elizabeth Nelson, while working closely with the Arts and Crafts Society to consider the future use of the heritage buildings.

Enjoyment of recreation and leisure is acknowledged in the natural values of the reserve and plans for improvements to paths, an upgrade of the playground and miniature railway, with enhancements intended for the Knoll and the Crab Apple walk.  The gardens maintenance and tree replenishment programme will also have a heritage focus.

The printed materials — with the reserve’s history, photographs and maps supporting the 2020 Keirunga Gardens draft management plan — are available from the Hastings District Council. Of particular note is the historic research provided by Matthew Wright and the design and scoping work provided by heritage architects Matthews and Matthews that has gone into this plan.

The high production values of the glossy booklet make reading about these exciting developments very pleasurable. I strongly recommend locals and others interested in Keirunga Gardens take advantage of this opportunity to become informed of what is being planned and to give feedback to Hastings District Council.

The Council’s consultation materials are here.

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