Arthur Dunn 1939–2008, a modest obituary
I was not relishing the phone call; I was acutely aware that all I had to offer was my newfound enthusiasm for an alternative method of raising indigenous plants, whereas Arthur Dunn was the singular local expert on the subject.
Out of respect for his achievements, the phone call needed to be made sooner rather than later—I did not want Arthur to think his experience was being ignored.
After listening to the proposal—to raise indigenous plants with the open-ground methods used in the forestry industry—Arthur immediately volunteered that it was something that he had wanted to try himself.
Meantime, to my insistence that I was an utter horticultural novice, he said ‘It often takes somebody from the outside to see new ways of doing things.’ Arthur could not have been more encouraging.
Later, following a successful application to the Sustainable Farming Fund, Jaap van Dorsser—the authority on raising indigenous plants forestry-style—travelled from his home in Ngongotahā to discuss the project.
The first meeting was with Rodney District Council representatives. The next, with councillor Dr Grahame Powell providing the transport, was with Arthur Dunn.
The rendezvous was to have been the Pūhoi Hall, where Val and Arthur were helping set up for some function. Arthur however, had departed—a break in the weather had sent him home to catch up the mowing of the extensive area in lawn in front of their Pūhoi Valley villa.
Which is where we eventually caught up with Arthur.
Arthur and Jaap proved to be kindred spirits and clearly both human dynamos—wiry frames reflecting lives dedicated to the land and to trees, possibly more to create legacies than individual wealth.
Arthur expounded on his ideas for bulk production of plants while Jaap was able to point out the flaws and suggest more promising avenues.
Time just permitted Arthur show us his pet restoration site, in Remiger Road. Predictably, Jaap had come prepared, with his boots—a couple of us weren’t quite as appropriately attired.
Of course, it was Dunn’s Bush we were stood admiring, Arthur hadn’t mentioned its name—seldom is that form of immortality so well-deserved.