WHITE PINE BUSH SCENIC RESERVE
White Pine Scenic Reserve, or White Pine Bush as it is known locally, is approximately 18 miles north of Napier. As the name implies, the reserve consists of native bush with a good display of white pine. There are, of course, many other fine species with a predominance of kahikatea, and some matai, totara, mahoe, Koromike [Koromiko] and a mixture of tawa, to name but a few.
Bird life has increased over the years with the regeneration of the bush; the tui, bell bird, kingfisher, tom tit, robin and native pigeon have all been sighted. There have been some indications of kiwi on this reserve, and as recently as 1955 a few were heard, although no sightings were reported. At that stage there were definite signs of the existence of these birds, reliable estimates setting the figure at about half a dozen. Unfortunately, however, no signs have since been found and it is feared that the Kiwi no longer inhabits the reserve.
White Pine Bush was originally part of the 26,000 acre Purahotangiha Block of Maori-owned land, in the Tangoio Valley region. The Block was purchased from the Maori owners; all negotiations were completed and the area was vested in the Crown by 1915. Most of the Block was used for the farm settlement of discharged soldiers, but in 1923 an area of some acres was set aside as a scenic reserve. The name originally given to this reserve was Tangoio Stream Scenic Reserve; later its present title was adopted to identify the area with the locally known name. In recent years a small cleared section has been added to the reserve to facilitate better access and to provide for a parking and picnic area.
Some time after it was first created, the Government of the day agreed to provide funds to be used in fencing the reserve to protect the native trees from wandering stock and to allow the bush to regenerate. The project fell through when the 1931 earthquake occurred and caused such havoc in Hawke’s Bay, but the scheme was not lost sight of and a few years later, in 1935 the Government approved a pound for pound subsidy of money raised locally so that the fencing could be completed. This was a tremendous help towards preserving the bush, but even so, over the years stock, in particular goats, has caused a great deal of damage by stripping off the bark and destroying the foliage of young trees.
The honorary rangers, who take particular interest in this reserve, have been a wonderful help to the Lands and Survey Department in preserving the bush; they carry out minor repair work, clear noxious weeds, help control the goats, report when fence breaks occur and in general keep a watchful eye on the reserve. At the present time the area is in good condition and is beginning to show the full effect of the care that has been taken.
The reserve is popular with the public for picnics and pleasant bush walks. An attraction that adds to its appeal is a small stream which flows through the area.
Recently the Department of Lands and Survey arranged for a number of the better specimens of each variety of tree to be labelled with their common and botanical names. This is in its final stages and is a tribute to Mr. Norman Elder, whose expert technical advice has been invaluable.
At the moment, improvements to the reserve are being effected by two local groups, with the assistance of the Lands and Survey Department and the Ministry of Works. The bush tracks are being improved and extended by enthusiastic members of the Napier Lions Club and the local branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.