Eastwoodhill Arboretum was the life’s work of its creator, William Douglas Cook, who came to Gisborne district in 1910 to take up 250 hectares of farm land from the Ngatapa subdivision.

William Douglas Cook
William Douglas Cook

Although Douglas Cook started out as a farmer his ambition was to plant trees and, over the next fifty five years spent at Eastwoodhill, he estimated he brought in about 5,000 different species and cultivars of trees and shrubs creating the largest collection of Northern Hemisphere trees and shrubs in the Southern Hemisphere.


1910 Bought 250ha of farmland from the Ngatapa subdivision, which Douglas cook named “Eastwoodhill” after the Miller family home in Thornliebank, near Glasgow. Flowers, orchids and woodlots were planted.

1914 Sent to war in Egypt and France and was injured and sent to England to recuperate. Was inspired by the beautiful parks and gardens he saw there and modelled Eastwoodhill on those he saw in England.

1918 The first arboretum plantings were made, mainly woodlots and shelter belts. Poplar Avenue planted along main drive

1927 Cook began ‘serious’ planting of the park about 1927 onwards, intending to collect a wide range of material. Corner Park planted. Bill Crooks began working for Douglas Cook.

1930 Married Claire Bourne.  Original homestead burnt down.

1933 Adopted Sholto Douglas Cook

1936 Claire and Douglas Cook visit England

1936 Original tree cathedral planted

1934-37 Cabin Park planted

1937 Claire and Douglas separate and Claire moves to Auckland


1945 Douglas Park planted

1950 Found and bought land for Pukeiti and with Russell Mathews established Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust in Taranaki.

1950’s Pear Park, Circus and Orchard Hill planted

1960 Glen Douglas planted

1965 Eastwoodhill bought by H.B. Williams from Douglas cook.

1967 Douglas Cook died 27th April, 1967

1970 HB Williams establishes the Eastwoodhill land as a trust, and after considerable work, a private members bill was put to Parliament.  Bob Berry (from Hackfalls) begins cataloguing the collection at Eastwoodhill.

1975 The Eastwoodhill Trust Act (1975) was passed and the Eastwoodhill Trust Board formed.

1978 Eastwoodhill awarded, ‘Arboretum Distinguished for Merit’ by the International Dendrology Society.  The first such award by the IDS.


1982 Kevin Boyce employed as Eastwoodhill’s first Curator

1984 Formation of garden volunteers to look after the Homestead Garden

1985 Garry Clapperton appointed second Curator of Eastwoodhill

1991 Douglas Cook Centre for Ornamental Plant Studies built

1992 Gordon Collier, of Titoki Point, appointed as garden advisor to develop planting plan for the Homestead Garden.

1998 Accommodation wing built for Douglas cook Centre

2000 Millennial Wood planted for the year 2000 celebrations

2002 Paul Wymen appointed as third Curator of Eastwoodhill

2003 Visitor Centre built to accommodate increased visitor numbers

2004 NZ Gardens Trust recognise Eastwoodhill as a National Garden of Significance

2005 Eastwoodhill recognised as New Zealand’s National Arboretum

2009 Eastwoodhill wins GOLD at the 2009 Ellerslie Flower Show in Christchurch. Ongoing events and catering work continue raising funds for the Eastwoodhill Charitable Trust to ensure the history is kept alive.

2010 100 years anniversary of Eastwoodhill – centennial celebrations throughout the year.


2011 Danny Fraser appointed as fourth Curator of Eastwoodhill

2013 Ben Lyte appointed as fifth Curator of Eastwoodhill

2014 New children’s playground built at Eastwoodhill

2015 Xanthe White appointed as Garden Advisor for ongoing planning of the Homestead Garden

2015 Dan Haliday appointed as sixth Curator of Eastwoodhill

2016 New Tree Cathedral planted in Little Flat

2016 New ramp built to Children’s Playground

2016 New Rotary Driveway was created

2017 New Greenhouse / Propagation shed built funded by Sir John Logan Campbell Residuary Trust

2017 Introduction of new style Lutyens Seats in Homestead Garden

2017 December – Dan Haliday left as Curator

2017 Hi vis Binoculars installed at Hi Point Lookout – funded by Tennyson Charitable Trust

2018 March - Sundial updated and replaced in original position

2018 August 2nd – Bob Berry creator of Hackfalls Arboretum dies at 102

2018 November – new car park gabion baskets filled with different timbers completed and new plantings on bank.

2019 May – Martin Weaver appointed as seventh Curator of Eastwoodhill

2019 August – Eastwoodhill bus trip to Gibbs Sculpture Farm

2019 September – MOU signed between Eastwoodhill and National Arboretum Canberra – attended by Jane Williams, Marion Nicholas and Martin Weaver

2019 September 18th – Lady Anne Berry dies at 99

2019 November – MOU signed between NZ Arb – attended by Martin Weaver and Jane Williams in Napier

2019 – December – large bequest from Est Les McGreevy

2020  June – Arch Gola installed in courtyard

2021 – July - With the Les McGreevy money we started the link road as per masterplan.

2022 – July – Martin Weaver departed as Curator.

2022 – July – Thrive Spaces and Places appointed as interim managers.