The History of River Estate
River Estate oils are produced on the banks of the Turanga river, which flows from the back hills of Whitford, past the small township and out to the Auckland Harbour.
The Wade family purchased the farm in 1852 after spending 10 years working in Point England to pay off their passage fares to NZ. The original parchment for the purchase signed by Sir Logan Campbell is still held by the Wade family. The early settlers traded and swapped knowledge with the Maoris in order to survive those difficult times.The Wade family came from Wells, Somerset, England - hence the farm was named 'Wells Grove'. The farm name is mentioned in history documents and is still retained today.
Wells Grove Estate Ltd is the parent company that produces the River Estate olive oil label.
The Wade family supplied cream, - firstly to the butter factory at Kings Wharf, Down town Auckland, then to the Whitford butter factory by way of the river ferries, until clay roads were built to transport cream by horse and cart. They also built a small motor vessel on the farm and used it to transport local Granger bricks, chaff, farm items, drain pipes and local produce as far north as the Puhoi river.
Milking cows finally ceased in 1986 with the current fifth generation Barry Wade being the last family member to milk and farm the 'Wells Grove' legacy . Farming then reverted to dry stock beef farming, which is still managed on some of the farm blocks today.
After many years of trying to find any relevant information with respect to olive growing in NZ and not finding much , our olive grove was first planted in 1997 with 90 olive trees. Successive plantings have seen this number grow to 1500 trees.
Originally there were nine different varieties planted from Italy, Greece, Spain, Algeria, Israel and France. Through trials and evaluations, this is now down to six oil varieties and two table oil varieties.
Whitford has a micro climate of its own, missing much of the rain that frequents Auckland. Our soils are heavy clay with a high level of rich topsoil carefully nurtured by 5 generations of pastoral farming. The grove has been deep ripped to ensure that the olive trees get to the nutrients in the soil and excess water drains away.
The trees have been planted and grow in grass as we try to work with nature and balance it with the demands of the olive tree. Our policy is to follow organic principles as close as possible with the demands of Auckland's climate.
We have trialled a seaweed spray for our fungal disease control which is replacing our Bordeaux based copper spray prgramme. This brings us closer to our organic principles without the copper restrictions - this allows our trees to function in unison with nature without the copper destroying our vital balance of nature.
The first oil was produced in 1999 and there has been a steady increase in production every year. A modern olive mill using the latest centrifuge technology was imported in 2001. In 2002 the Press House was designed specifically for processing and bottling the olive oil onsite. This can be viewed when visiting to taste and purchase our oils.
Our Olive Press House is currently the only one certified within the Manukau region for olive oil production.
The Whitford Creamery in the 1900's opposite where the General Store Restaurant is today.
The Wade family used to take their cream by horse sledge to the rivers edge, then transfer it to row boat to meet the steamer, taking it to Kings Wharf, Auckland.
The 'Standard' built at the Wade inlet by Charles (father) and sons Harry, Tom & Joe Wade, was used to carry Granger bricks, tiles, iron, stock feed, wire, staples, coal, manure, timber and more
Above & Below - making hay on the Wades property in the early 1900's.