Arba Cielo
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More Trees:Dunedin Trees A, B-E, F-M, N-Z.

Other Trees:
Canterbury Trees, Seasons 2007-08, Seasons 2008-09

The plantings at Arba Cielo 1996-2007:
Deciduous A-F, Deciduous G-P, Deciduous Q-Z, Evergreen, Conifers, Seasons 2004-06,
Seasons 2006-07,
Seasons 2007-08


Click on most photos to view an enlargement.
Planning for the future  

Ideas for advancing the "Arba Cielo" project and safeguarding its future.

Above: Jubilee Park in Dunedin, 2005. This is the look I'm aiming for - a colourful naturalistic forest with a bush understorey. Building Projects  
Existing barn foundation pad at left. Ideal barn is pictured above right. A much simpler version has a building consent in place, but under the 100 share proposal the more elaborate version could be paid for through the sale of a residential share (the residence being an appartment over the garage space). A similar deal would permit the construction of the art gallery pictured at right.

Additional building projects follow the sub-division plans.

  Greenhouse Projects  
Left: Proposed greenhouses for the existing nursery area.The potential for greenhouse cutivation in this climate should be high - plentiful reliable rain for irrigation and a cool climate year round.
Right: Dwarf peach "Bonanza", 28 Jan 2006, in the tunnel house. Currently about 180cm high, it needs a larger greenhouse. Excellent quality peaches.
Right: Asimina triloba, the North American pa paw, in the tunnel house, Feb 2004. This small tree can easily reach 4m in height so needs more space than the tunnel house offers.
Left: The cherry orchard greenhouse project. (27 x 15m floor area & up to 4m high).

Others are described below the lease and partnerhip proposals towards the end of this page.

  Tourist Accommodation  
The best long term hope for income from this property is probably tourism.

The first project involves turning the art studio into a somewhat up market "tourist cabin" - double bed, TV, microwave, seating for 2. I've found it a special place live and work, hopefully others will also - and be willing to pay a modest sum for the privilege.

To achieve this goal a toilet and shower building will need to be constructed about 20m away. One option is depicted at left behind the studio.

The art studio on 21 August 2006. It needs floor coverings and a heat pump for winter heat & summer ventilation.



Due to financial stresses, climatic issues & my inability to attract a suitable partner to help with the maintenance routine it became necessary for me to sell this property in October 2007. I'll be starting a new tree planting effort on a 0.5ha block of land at Lawrence in February 2008 before attempting to create another larger scale venture in that region, but I'll leave some ideas on this page for a while as they might be relevant to similar projects elsewhere.



This may be the best way to preserve the scale and intent of a property like "Arba Cielo". 100 shares would be offered at a price yet to be established with the help of an accountant. Each shareholder would pay an ongoing annual fee equivalent to 1% of the cost of property maintenance. Occasional other expenses like infrastructure upgrades and equipment replacement would also be paid for in this way. Maintenance will most likely be carried out by a property manager or contractor, though volunteer shareholders could possibly do it . Shareholders would be kept aware of all aspects of the property management through a website. The return to shareholders would be 3 accommodation nights per year in the island studio, free daytime access to the property (excluding any private sections) at other times, and the satisfaction of playing a part in protecting and enhancing a forest ecosystem. Perhaps there will also be benefits through "carbon credits" if the government establishes that scheme in a favourable way. Additionally there will be income potential from the island studio as tourist accommodation for days it is not used by shareholders, and from the proposed art gallery.


- A protective covenant will be created as a legal part of the new property title.
- At least 50 shares will need to be booked before the share structure can be created as the current property mortgage will need to be cleared by me first. A safe and legal payment method and time will be established when sufficient bookings ("serious expressions of interest") are received by me.
- I will retain "the cabin" as my exclusive residence for my lifetime or until I decide otherwise (most likely when I've sold 99 shares). When I no longer require it the cabin will be available as visitor or worker accommodation.
- The role of "property manager" (or "forest guardian") will be offered first to the shareholders. I anticipate this job will be worth no more than $10,000 annually. I will be available for the job but shareholders are free to choose someone else or spread the work between themselves.
- There should be a minimum of 4 shareholders.
- All decisions will require 100% shareholder agreement (this will not be a "majority rules" democracy).
- Shareholders need to be prepared for additional expenses within the first year or two: floor covering and ventilation system (or heat pump) for the island studio, toilet facility close to studio (preferably including a shower), & fully enclosed barn for tractor. The mower unit for the tractor may need to be replaced within 12 months. The cabin needs plumbing, windows, doors and at least some recladding. Each share will contribute 1% to these expenses.
- I will retain ownership of unsold shares. I will retain one share with a residential section attached (a space on the ridge summit, less than 2,000sqm) as my future home.
- Optional: there may be 3 residential shares in addition to my own - one on the ridge, and the other 2 as part of the proposed art gallery and barn. The sale price on the gallery and barn shares would cover the cost of the buildings. The ground floor spaces of the barn and gallery would be retained for collective use as storage and gallery spaces.


This is a set of rules to be established for the various property share options outlined on this page. It will be embodied within the land purchase and sale agreement. Anyone who buys or inherits a share will be legally bound to honour these objectives and rules.

Regarding the shared land:-

No grazing animals.
No living trees or shrubs are to be removed without the consent of all the other shareholders. Exceptions: gorse, broom, and small (less than 1m in height) self seeded material .
As this is a bird sanctuary it is hoped any person residing here will not keep carnivorous pets, but if they do they must keep them away from the waterways and within 30m of their house.Visitors, be they shareholders or otherwise, must not bring carnivorous pets onto any part of the property.
Herbicide and mowing activities will be carried out with the greatest care to avoid injuring desirable plants. Only experienced individuals may perform these tasks.
No birds are to be harmed.
The land between The Old Coach Rd and the largest ponds and associated east-west waterway will be kept mown (grass height less than 15cm) at all times.
All gorse (
Ulex europaeus) and broom (Cytisus scoparius) must be controlled with a view to complete removal.
All ponds are to be kept clear of surface covering weeds and silt build-up.
The company will not take on any debt.
A neutral professional will handle all company legal and accounting matters.
No aerial phone or power cables are to be installed on this property.
New plantings must respect old - a tree should not be planted in such a manner as to shade out and kill existing plantings.
No recreational shooting.
Possums and other feral animals deemed intolerably destructive to trees with be removed by the most humane method available (possums are currently the only feral animals of concern as tree guards effectively block hares).
Any proposed company expenses beyond routine maintenance will require the documented consent of all shareholders.
A share does not equal a vote. Where an action requires a group decision that decision will be made through discussion involving all shareholders. Impasses may be resolved by random selection principles (eg coin toss), not by voting. Any change to these rules will require the documented consent of all shareholders.
-The property as a whole cannot be sold without 100% shareholder consent.

Additional points for subdivision options:-

The property share cannot be separated from the residential share at time of resale or at any other time.
Individual blocks must not be fenced (objective 2), though informal perimeter screen planting would be acceptable.
Each shareholder agrees to help maintain shared territory to a minimum standard equal to its state at time of purchase. The maintenance will include: weed clearance from trees; protecting trees from browsing animals such as possums, hares, and stray sheep; repair work to damaged trees; other storm damage repairs (eg dam walls). It is suggested that the 4 shareholders each do one job for 1yr (July to July) and change jobs every year - tractor mowing, or lawn mowing, or herbicide work or brushcutter work (gorse and grass control).
Shared roadways will be mown regularly - each landowner will be responsible for this expense fror a year.

Mark McLeod
18 May 2007, 26 Oct 2007 & 5 Jan 2008.

  2. Sub-division options  
The ridge on 28 May 2006. Proposed blocks labelled.


2 small freehold blocks, each around 2000sqm, are created along the ridge with shared legal access to either Range Road (a roughly formed public road) or (less desirably) through Block 1 to the Old Coach Road. This is the simplest and most conventional option.


Above: a Photoshop coloured sketch of a possible ridge located house.

Left: 3 independent freehold blocks.
Left: 5 & 4 Block subdivisions. I think these work best in securing both substantial private space for shareholders and a shared arboretum of sufficient size to capture future public interest (tourist potential). In the 4 block option, with all residents located along the ridge, the existing cabin and studio may be attached to one of the top blocks or they may become shared assets - each resident gets to use a building for a year - could be an income earning opportunity (eg tourist accommodation in the cabin.
  In the above version the freehold blocks are reduced to the size of large urban sections. 6 actual or possible house site options are depicted (only 4 would be sold). I imagine most people would have privacy concerns with this option. I certainly value my personal space, which is a big reason for my choosing to live in a rural area.

. Strata Title Sub-division

The existing property becomes the company known as “Arba Cielo”. The property will be divided into 5 blocks - 4 residential sections each somewhere between 1000sq m and approx 1ha, with the remainder of the 25.7ha being shared by the residential section owners.


1.To establish a permanent forest park incorporating a diverse species collection with emphasis on seasonal colour and potential tree crops.

2.To secure the long term safety, integrity and maintenance of this plant collection.

3.To provide a bird sanctuary.

4.To provide an affordable, quality, peaceful rural lifestyle for all residents.

Up to 4 residential shares will be created and sold by Mark McLeod. Each share will include:-
- A section for a building site, up to about 1ha.
- Legal access to The Old Coach Road by a 4WD standard road (roadbase spread on the existing grass track and topped up as necessary).
- Shared ownership of the remainder of the property.

This sub-division will be depdendent on resource consent.
A Protective Covenant, as described above, will apply.
Survey will not commence until deposit money is received by an appointed lawyer.
Roading upgrade and service installation is not included in the land purchace price.


All roading, power/phone installation and maintenance up to the boundary of each freehold section. All other essential maintenance expenses relating to the shared block. Any legal or accounting fees relating to the company.

Each share will pay one quarter of annual costs.

An alternative way to deal with some maintenance costs may be to make each block owner fully responsible for the normal costs relating to his or her annual share of the property chores. So of you are doing the mowing for a year you'll cover all expenses, if you do the herbicide work for a year you'll buy the herbicide and retain what's left at the end of the year for your own use. Each block owner will need their own ride-on mower, push lawn mower, brush cutter and herbicide sprayer. The existing tractor could be retained as a shared asset but I do not favour the idea of sharing mechanical equipment.


Only houses located along the Range Rd ridge can expect to retain extensive views and maximum sunshine (see the 3 block option diagram above).

This arrangement permits us the opportunity to be active participants in a large scale landscaping project that, unlike most lifestyle blocks, will survive indefinitely beyond each shareholder’s lifespan thereby ensuring their hopes and efforts are not lost through individual death.

Mark Mcleod

16 May 2007.


Far Left: Proposed art studio, or maybe a second "tourist cabin" for the summit (unfinished painting).
Left: Acer rubrum "Autumn Glory" - intended to be widely planted on this property.
Left: Existing cabin, west side, 10 July 2007. The building is far from complete. It currently features 3 rooms, a flued gas heater, "Separette" toilet (waterless, fan ventilated; solid waste goes into a compost bin or is dug into the ground fortnightly), and a small solar power system (needs a larger battery bank) with back-up petrol generator. The front section was intended to be a fully glazed conservatory, part kitchen and part living room or bedroom. The old windows in the rear section had to be replaced recently with polycarb sheets as I can't afford a permanent solution. Walls & ceilings in the rear section are lined and insulated. There are no floor coverings. A low powered ventilation system needs to be added to cool the building in summer and to make the toilet system work properly (otherwise the toilet needs to be replaced with a septic system). The fenced enclosure at front was intended to be clad in polycarbonate to create a desirable microclimate.
Left: 28 May 2006 - the cherry orchard in the foreground - site of the first proposed greenhouse project.
Far Left: Front view of cabin, 18 March 2006.
Left: my concept for the completed cabin

3. Lease & Partnership Arrangements - Draft Proposal

I'm keen to hear from urban based vegetarians and vegans who would like to grow their own food but lack the space to do so.

I need at least 3 economic partners to build commercial sized greenhouses for growing fruit and vegetable crops in a manner consistent with Vegan ethical values (no use of products derived from animal exploitation).

The goals are:-

1. To demonstrate the potential for rural land uses in Southland that don't involve the exploitation of animals.
2. To avoid using animal derived products (like fertilizers) in growing the crops.
3. To make every reasonable effort to avoid harming higher animals (like birds) in the process of growing these crops - hence one of the reasons for growing most crops under cover.
4. To give the partners a return on their investment in the form of food for their own consumption or a financial return from commercial food production.

There is sufficient space for several large greenhouses on this property and enough rainfall to ensure easy "automatic" irrigation (rainwater fed directly from a greenhouse roof to the crops underneath). Proposed crops are cherries, dwarf peaches, apricots, table grapes, blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, figs, red currants, and citrus. Most of these are already present on the property, and excellent peaches are being grown successfully in a tunnel house. Other tree crops on trial here are Gevuina avellana, Asimina triloba, persimmon and hazelnuts.

The people involved should plan to visit at least once a fortnight through the growing season, though I can do maintenance work for a minimal charge if required. Each greenhouse will be shared by up to 4 people. The preferred first project is to enclose an existing 27 x 15m cherry orchard (a few trees grafted, the remainder are "Dawson" & "Stella" seedlings which will probably need to be grafted), meaning a land area of approx 7 x 4m and up to 4m of vertical space for each partner or a quarter share of everything produced. The cost of a partnership will be determined by the price of greenhouse construction and legal costs for setting up the company or lease arrangement. Ongoing costs will be crop & building maintenance, insurance & any partnership expenses. If the property is sold each partner would be guaranteed a refund of their original investment + interest at the rate of inflation on the property (determined at time of property sale - interest won't be applicable if the property declines in value). All plants and the greenhouse structure are to remain on the property.

This is a great opportunity for urban dwelling vegetarians and vegans in Southland and possibly Otago to explore and hopefully demonstrate the practicality of their ethical values. However, intending partners must appreciate that their investment may not be recoverable if they choose to exit before the property is sold (and the property may never be sold). Partners wanting to exit the project before the property sells or before any lease arrangement expires would have to sell their shares to another party.

The partnership legal structure, possibly a long term "free" land lease agreement or orchard company, will be established by an independent legal service and will guarantee investors a right of access to their greenhouse as well as the above stated investment recovery if the property is sold.

In addition to the greenhouse projects I'm also eager to expand my hazel and Gevuina nut plantings. I see this as achievable through either the same partnership arrangement described above or through a separate land lease agreement. No lease fees for at least 20yrs and no claim on any crops produced, but the trees must remain on the property at the end of the lease. If the property is sold before the least expires the lessee would be guaranteed a refund for the original cost of the trees + interest at the rate of inflation on the land.

Mark McLeod
20 Oct 2006.

The "amphitheatre" - more greenhouse space or a possible hazelnut orchard site. 29 Aug 2006.
29 Aug 2006. Left: The tree nursery north of the barn site - more greenhouse possibilities depicted at right.
Left: Another greenhouse proposed for the nursery area to replace the existing 8m tunnel house.
Right: Ducks on the big pond, 5 Nov 2005.