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Lawrie Cooke Reserve Playground

HDC Lawrie Cooke Playground AUG MC 1200x400px NowOpen

Lawrie Cooke playground opening Medium

The residential development of Lyndhurst has resulted in a new reserve for the area; a space where neighbours can relax and children can play. The new reserve fronts onto Matariki Avenue. It will serve as a relaxing green space for Lyndhurst and wider Frimley.

As well as play equipment that is fruit theme-inspired – ‘fruit bin’ climbing frame and slide, and play tractor, fruity colour scheme and surfacing - in time it will also include a mini orchard with trees kindly donated by LE Cooke Nurseryman. 

The naming of the reserve

The new green space is named after noted Hastings nurseryman Lawrence (Lawrie) Cooke.

Mr Cooke established a number of nursery sites across on what we know today as Lyndhurst and wider Frimley, starting in the late 1950s, firstly growing asparagus and roses before specialising in fruit trees for the orchard industry.

Among other accolades he was recognised for his contribution to the industry in 2004, being made a life member of Summerfruit NZ. In 2008 he was awarded life membership of the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers Association.

His wife Jan joined in the day-to-day running of the business, L.E Cooke Nurseryman Ltd, from 1959.

On 15 October 2022, Lawrie Cooke passed away at Hawke's Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital, aged 91 years in the presence of his family.

The pair’s legacy lives on with their son and daughter-in-law Martin and Kelli Cooke now running the business, today one of the longest surviving fruit tree nurseries still operating in New Zealand. They grow up to 300,000 fruit trees of a wide variety each year, distributing them nationwide.

Although the area has changed a lot since those early days, they say the naming of the reserve is a way to preserve their links to the area. “The grandchildren will be proud to think there’s a reserve and playground named after their grandad.”

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Pictured are the wider Cooke family at the opening of the new reserve on Sunday 27 November 2022.


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