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Planting Proposal Passes First Stage

26 February 2001

The proposal for a new planting on the summit of One Tree Hill has been endorsed by Auckland City’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

The proposal will now go before the full Council on March 8. Once ratified, it will form the basis of a resource consent application, which will be notified to allow for further input from members of the public and other key interest groups. A final decision will be made by three independent planning commissioners, and is not expected until mid-year.

The plan calls for the planting of pohutukawa and totara seedlings, surrounded by a protective shelter-belt of native shrubs. Some of the pohutukawa seedlings would be those retrieved from the trunk of the pine, while the rest of the pohutukawa and totara seedlings will be sourced from suitable parent trees in the local area.

“We have located the very best stock available in the area,” says Committee Chairman, Cr Bill Christian. “Pohutukawa was the most popular choice with more than half of all respondents opting for it,” he says. The pohutukawa has also been chosen by arborists as having the best chance of survival in the difficult conditions. “These trees flourish well in rugged conditions and on top of that maunga (hill) the conditions are very rugged,” he said.

It is proposed to plant pohutukawa seedlings in late winter or early spring, followed by the totara seedlings next year (dependent upon the outcome of the resource consent process). The totara seedlings are too small for planting this year.

Natural selection will help determine which species eventually survives, dominating the skyline as did the previous Monterey pine.

The team of experts which narrowed down a number of choices to one preferred option, believes that planting locally-sourced seedlings is the most appropriate choice and will provide the optimum chance of long term survival of the strongest tree.

“Of those who responded to our invitation to tell us their views, the preferred species was pohutukawa at 51 per cent, totara eight per cent, pine seven per cent and puriri one per cent. Preferences for “other” accounted for six per cent. More than 70 per cent supported replacing the pine with a living tree, with five per cent requesting a sculpture and another four per cent preferring it be left bare.”

In preparing the proposal, Auckland City canvassed a wide variety of opinion. Not only was the public’s overwhelming preference for a pohutukawa taken into consideration, but so too were the views of local iwi, the Cornwall Park Trust Board, and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

“We are grateful to all who took the time to reply and give us their views,” says Cr Christian.

A number of other planting options were considered. They included planting only pohutukawa seedlings and transplanting a semi-mature tree. However, the option of planting two species and allowing a process of self-selection is preferred, because it addresses important historical and cultural issues.

Transplanting a larger tree was not considered to be the best solution because of the low chances of its survival in the exposed summit conditions. It was also felt there would be difficulties transplanting the tree within the limited planting area (six metres in diameter) given the protection required for the valuable archaeological features.

There are also no locally-sourced specimens of suitable form and size available, and the costs of supporting and nurturing a semi-mature tree under such conditions would be high. Doubts have also been expressed that a semi-mature tree transplanted to the site would acquire the same cultural significance as a seedling that grows and matures across several generations.

Auckland City is keen to replant the summit late this winter or early next spring. In anticipation, Council arborists have sourced plant stock of both pohutukawa and totara from the immediate maunga (hill) and the surrounding area. This stock has been selected for its quality and cultural appropriateness. However, because the pine had to be felled earlier than had been originally anticipated, not all of the seedlings and cuttings are mature enough to endure planting at the site this year.

“The preferred option entails a planting period extending over at least two seasons, rather than being just a single event. The sometimes dry and windy conditions on the summit will require the pohutukawa and totara seedlings to be carefully looked after if they are to survive,” says Councillor Christian.

ENDS

For further information please contact:
Cr Bill Christian
Chairman, Parks and Recreation Committee
Tel: 527 8648 or 025 814721.

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