A Point Wells village house owned by a descendant of Thomas Hansen, who captained the brig bringing Rev Samuel Marsden to the Bay of Islands to establish New Zealand's first mission settlement, have a slice of that early settler history in their garden.
The sub-tropical garden has a grafted lemon tree cutting taken from the first lemon tree introduced to the country by Captain Hansen when he sailed here in 1814 with his family from Sydney and mission leader Rev Marsden. It is thought to be the oldest introduced living tree in New Zealand.
The original lemon tree – a Lisbon or Australian Bush – now large and still fruiting, along with a Briar Rose, is the only visible remains of the early settlers' gardens.
The first permanent European settlement was established when the Active sailed into Rangihoua Bay and dropped anchor near Ruatara's pa. Four months later, the Active returned to Sydney leaving behind Captain Hansen's son Thomas, daughter Hannah, son-in-law John King and grandson Phillip King, who with two other families formed the settlement at Oihi Bay.
The Active, which was owned for a decade by Rev Marsden, became the supply ship for the mission station. For two years Captain Hansen made numerous voyages across the Tasman but was dismissed as captain in 1816. He blamed the influence of the “drunken, infamous” Mrs Hall for causing the Active to run aground at North Cape and he eventually ended up captaining another ship.
Cuttings from the tree were taken for the 200 year anniversary and reunion in 2014 of the early settler families descendants. The original lemon tree is planted near a memorial cross at Oihi Bay celebrating the settlement and first Christian church service held in New Zealand on Christmas Day in 1814.
The one metre grafted cutting in Cecil and Joy Bowyer's large garden at 42 Point Wells Road, has borne fruit on its thorny branches but they look completely different and are nowhere near as juicy as the new lemon varieties now grown.
Set in lush gardens with mature shrubs and fruit trees on a large 1090 square metre site at the end of a long driveway planted with lavender on one boundary, the three bedroom house was a two bedroom cottage when the Bowyers bought it as a holiday home.
The couple have extended the house to become a well laid-out family home with the possibility of extra income through letting part of the house as an airbnb. At one end there are two bedrooms and a bathroom with their own separate entrance, that with a little enhancement could be used as a bedroom and small lounge for airbnb guests.
A generous master bedroom with dressing room and ensuite are at the other end of the house below a tastefully decorated sunny and light-filled lounge with plenty of permanent storage. It opens out to a north facing partly covered deck overlooking the hills and towards Leigh and down on the property's well-established and tended colourful gardens. It is a pleasant place to while away an hour of two relaxing on a sun lounger or reading a book.
In the middle of the house is a warm kitchen, spacious dining and sitting area that also open on to a sunny north facing deck and small patio. The welcoming home is complemented by a single garage and workshop at the rear.
The property is within easy reach of the safe waters of Point Wells estuary beach, library, bus stop and local store. It is on the market for $995,000 through Bayleys Warkworth salesperson Fin Higgins.