Hawksbury, New Zealand

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Hawksbury, also known as "Cherry Farm" (and sometimes erroneously as "Evansdale"), is a small residential and industrial area beside State Highway 1 between Dunedin and Waikouaiti.

Cherry Farm Hospital[edit]

Former hospital building in 2008

Cherry Farm Hospital, a psychiatric hospital serving the Dunedin area opened here in 1952 [1] and patients from Seacliff Mental Hospital at Seacliff were relocated here. Cherry Farm Hospital epitomised the village-asylum atmosphere in name and design,[1] contrasting with the harsh conditions in the fortress-like Seacliff hospital.[1]

When the hospital closed in 1992, it was the consequence of new arrangements for the three groups of patients that remained. While at its peak Cherry Farm had many hundreds of patients, in latter years this number had dropped to below 400. Psychogeriatric patients were either transferred to a unit at Wakari Hospital, or to residential care in the community, people with intellectual disability moved to new lives in the community provided by a range of community agencies, one of which, Hawksbury Community Living Trust, is referred to below. General adult psychiatic patients were either transferred to new services at Wakari Hospital or into supported accommodation in the community. The closure of Cherry Farm Hospital was a key milestone in the policy of successive governments to implement "deinstitutionalisation". This process was completed nationwide in October 2006 with the closure of Kimberley Centre, Levin, the last large institution of its type.

One of the re-housing projects was the Hawksbury Community Living Trust which according to its website was "initially set up in 1992 to provide quality residential support for people with intellectual disabilities. The service opened its first home in Dunedin April 1992 and has since opened 10 further homes in Dunedin and Christchurch."

Hawksbury today[edit]

Hawksbury has a looped network of curving streets in a typical post-war "public works" plan. There were a number of small hospital residential buildings known as "villas": some have been converted and modernised as houses and many others demolished.

There are also shops, a post office, library and school, all of which are unused. The former hospital chapel is used regularly by a local Christian group. There is also a museum explaining the Christian creation story.

Larger multi-storey office and accommodation buildings have been developed as low-cost rental housing.

Moana Gow Pool, a swimming pool remaining from the hospital days, serves the surrounding areas of Waikouaiti, Karitane and Blueskin Bay. (This should not be confused with the olympic-sized pool in Dunedin with a similar name.)

Hawksbury's main business and attraction to passing traffic is the Evansdale Cheese factory and shop, which relocated here from Evansdale when it outgrew its old premises.

There is a local Kyokushin Karate club that runs in Hawksbury Hall with members from the surrounding areas of Waikouaiti, Palmerston, Karitane and Macraes.

Place names[edit]

The name Hawksbury[2], often misspelled Hawkesbury,[3] was an early English name for the settlement at Waikouaiti, and is still applied to the Hawksbury Lagoon[2] and several businesses there. The developers of Hawksbury probably changed the name from Cherry Farm because of the social stigma attached to the psychiatric hospital. The area's association with mental health care is maintained in the name of the Hawksbury Community Living Trust. The cheese factory's prominent signage here sometimes leads to Hawksbury being erroneously referred to as Evansdale.

The nearby Matanaka Farm, which contains New Zealand's oldest surviving farm buildings, was first settled by the Australian whaler Johnny Jones in 1840. Cherry Farm is named for Captain Cherry, the master of one of Jones's ships.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Nigel Benson, "Seacliff asylum's painful and haunting history" Otago Daily Times, Dunedin 27 January 2007
  2. ^ a b Crown Protected Area Placenames (PDF file on Land Information New Zealand website, retrieved 2009-07-02
  3. ^ See for example, Change of Township name Borough of West Hawkesbury to Waikouaiti: Centennial Celebration, pamphlet, POWA, Waikouaiti, 2008. "Hawkesbury" was used throughout but a photograph of the official proclamation in the pamphlet shows the correct spelling.
  4. ^ Northern Approaches by C.W.S. Moore (Otago Centennial Historical Publications: 1958) p.19

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°37′03″S 170°38′16″E / 45.617534°S 170.637782°E / -45.617534; 170.637782