The Big Fruit, Cromwell, NZ

Odille Esmonde-Morgan

GLENORCHY, Australia

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Artist's Description

This sculpture is at the entrance to Cromwell, a central Otago town on NZ’s south island. My dear partner Warwick lay on his back to grab this unusual angle up the centre of the sculpture.

Cromwell was originally known as “The Junction”, being at the confluence of the Clutha and Kawarau Rivers. In 1862, gold was discovered below the Junction by two miners, Hartley and Reilly. Once the word of a gold strike was out, there was an influx of several thousand miners to the area.

As gold ran out, Cromwell became the service centre for an extensive farming and stone fruit growing area. It has a strategic location between the Lindis and the Haast Pass, and acts as a hub between the towns of Wanaka, Queenstown and Alexandra. The former is commemorated with the giant sculpture of stone fruit which stands outside the northern end of the town.

Cromwell lay at the confluence of the Clutha River and Kawarau River, which was noted for the difference between the colours of the waters of the two rivers and also for the historic bridge at the convergence of the two. Since the construction of the Clyde Dam and the filling of Lake Dunstan in the early 1990s the river confluence was drowned, as was the old town centre.

The decision to build Clyde Dam and use Cromwell as the accommodation base brought many changes to the town. Approximately one-third of the town was rebuilt on higher ground. The changes included the doubling of the residential area, relocation of the old town centre (now called “Old Cromwell Town”), upgrading of services, and the provision of modern educational and sports facilities, and a new bridge. The relocated town centre, or “The Mall,” now houses the main retail, service and civic buildings in Cromwell. Several of the old buildings of the town which escaped the flooding have been retained as a historic precinct close to the shore of the Kawarau.

The town was named after Oliver Cromwell and, as well as “The Junction”, the town was previously known as “The Point” and “Kawarau”.
The future of Cromwell is in farming, horticulture, viticulture, and tourism. Cromwell is nicknamed the “Fruit Bowl of the South”.

Central Otago is a land of extremes: it is the coldest, driest part of New Zealand. The seasons are sharply defined: summers are hot and low in humidity; winter mornings are often misty, the days cloudless and windless and the nights freezing. Alexandra, for example, has the lowest average annual rainfall (340mm) recorded anywhere in New Zealand, is the least windy and has 148 frosts annually (only Lake Tekapo, with 149, has more). Ophir, 27 km away, holds the record for the lowest air temperature recorded – minus 21.6 deg C in mid-1995 – but it also held the highest reading (35.2 deg C in 1959) until 42.4 deg C was recorded at Rangiora, in Canterbury in 1973.

Spring warms the soil and fruit tree blossom dominates the district’s orchard areas. Temperatures range from minus 3 to 20 deg C, with 10 frosts a month. Average rainfall is 28mm a month and sunshine 206 hours.

In summer, daylight lasts as long as 10pm. Temperatures range from 10 to plus 30 deg C on several days. Rainfall averages 38mm a month and sunshine is 227 hours.

Autumn is brilliant as the extensive orchards and poplar shelterbelts turn red, yellow and gold. Temperatures range from minus 3 to 24 deg C. Rainfall averages 30mm a month with 11 frosts monthly and 150 hours of sunshine.

Winter brings a temperature range of minus 6 to 15 deg C, and average monthly rainfall of 15mm, 25 days frosts and 107 hours of sunshine per month during the short days.

Canon 1DMkIIN & 24-105 L

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