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Historic Huanui Orchards Sells to New Owners

By Admin Whangarei

Sunday 29 July 2018 was the last day of trading for the iconic Huanui Orchards shop which the owner, Mr Hanley Hutchinson, opened 42 years ago, together with Huanui Orchards owned and run by the Hutchinson family since 1873.

Huanui Orchards prided themselves on providing the local community quality produce, friendly service and great prices – selling fresh fruit and vegetables that many local families grew up on.

After many years of hard, dedicated work, Mr Hutchinson made the difficult decision to retire and put the Huanui properties on the market and entrusted the Ray White Rural Commercial Team to market his property in a way that would do justice to his life’s work. The team acknowledged the special property they had before them and created a strategy to ensure the best result for the owner. A tender process was chosen.

The property was made up of five orchards in the Glenbervie and Kauri areas ranging from 4 to 31.8 hectares along with the shop and packhouse on Ngunguru Road. Most orchards had a mix of fruit, with the most commercially viable crop being kiwifruit.

A robust online advertising campaign was initiated for the three key orchards with online interest peaking at over 626,287 impressions/2,126 online views.

Orchards were originally established on the Huanui block by the Hutchinson brothers, Matthew, Hanley and William, in the early 1870s as part of their farming operation. 20 years later Huanui had about 70 acres (28.3 ha) covered mainly in orchards but with oats and barley (to provide chaff to feed draught horses), with potato crops grown between the trees.

By 1897 Huanui Farm had 2,500 fruit trees comprising of oranges, lemons, apples, pears and stone fruit. Production that year was recorded at 15 ton with an average selling price of one penny per pound. Some of this produce was sold locally but much of it was shipped to Auckland and elsewhere. A further approx 4 hectares were planted in the early 1910s by Hilton Hutchinson (second generation) which was the last planting for some decades to come. By the 1930s some orchard areas had actually been taken out and grassed over to feed cattle. The citrus trees however were left to grow on the volcanic land.

The 1950s saw more orchard plantings in the wider district with Noel Hutchinson (third generation) beginning additional plantings in 1957 with pear and peach trees. It was at this time that new plant protection chemicals were available providing renewed confidence in fruit growing.

In about 1960 the Hutchinson brothers (Hanley and Donald) deciding to establish their own fruit shop on the farm. Sales were initially from the dry stone wall building (now NZ Heritage listed) with Hanley replanting anew and Donald assuming the role of dairy farming. In 1976 the existing retail outlet known as Huanui Orchards was opened by Hanley.

New types of fruit were introduced to the orchards during the 1970s and 1980s including kiwifruit, avocado, persimmon, easy-peel mandarin, cherimoya, a new hybrid buttercup squash and macadamia nut.

Kiwifruit growing really started in Glenbervie in 1972. Kiwifruit was a lucrative crop through New Zealand with planting encouraged by significant tax breaks. The Huanui packhouse was once one of four small packhouses processing for export. It was expanded twice on Hanley’s watch and become the only kiwifruit export packhouse in Whangarei until they ceased packing in 2017.

The Tender process reached a successful outcome and offers were accepted for the different properties on or before the 14 May 2018. Huanui Orchards now has two owners. Four orchards are owned by G & R Orchards, an established orchardist from the Bay of Plenty area and the other two properties owned by the van der Kwaak family who, together with managing their Produce Connection logistics business, are rebranding and refurbishing the shop to ‘Huanui Fresh’ with its own boutique Black Stump Coffee Shop. Renovations are underway and the store is due to open mid-late August.

“Ray White Rural Commercial were pleased to be a part of this last history and thank Mr Hutchinson for his always courteous and kind manner towards all parties involved in the sale process.” said Peter Ogle and Megan McGregor.

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