Artist: Dan Mills, Mangawhai

Year: 2011

Medium: Acrylic on Sign Plzwood

Size: 23sq m.

Sponsored By: Fenn Family Trust

Katikati has always been a place of abundant harvests, with an ideal climate and soil that can make most produce grow. This mural was created to recognise some of the varieties of commercial produce that has been grown in this district, and it also recognises the achievements of all the growers who have turned Katikati into a “Fruit Bowl of the Bay”.

Right from the beginning of the settlement, producing food for the village was an important task. Land had to be cleared and at times the bracken fern and droughts made it hard work. By the early 1890′s Katikati was producing crops in commercial amounts, the local Maori community were cultivating fairly large areas of kumara and potatoes, so a variety of these crops were being sold at the goldfields of Waihi or the growing town of Tauranga.

The Second World War saw Katikati really start to produce fruit and especially vegetables in large quantities. Despite the difficulties, Katikati farmers rose to the challenge and between 60 and 80 farmers set aside portions of their dairy farms. They banded together to form a Commercial Growers Association and entered into contracts with the Government. Five days a week special trains loaded with produce were sent to Pukekohe for processing, it was to be Katikati’s special war effort, an achievement noted by the then Government and American Allies.

After the war many farms reverted back to dairying. The 1950′s saw a gradual swing towards citrus and sub tropical varieties being introduced in Katikati. In the 1960′s the growing of onions reached its peak with 180 acres being harvested. Katikati is the principal area in New Zealand for growing strawberry plants, and strawberries were first grown commercially here in 1955. Passionfruit, citrus and tamarillos (tree tomatoes) were also being grown and it was around this time that kiwifruit and avocados started to appear in the district as commercial crops, these were the two crops that were to go onto change the Katikati landscape and its economic base.

Dan has created a mural that has just some of the varieties of produce that have been grown commercially in Katikati over the years.

This mural was donated by the Fenn family, in memory of Bert and Eileen Fenn who resided in Katikati from 1928 – 1972.