Gone in a morning – the loss of the Waitara riverbank pohutukawa

Gone. The view from the lookout on Manukorihi Hill.

Gone. The view from the lookout on Manukorihi Hill.

Regular readers will know of our battle to save the pohutukawa trees that line our local river. We lost. Today the chainsaws moved in. In a couple of short hours, trees that were over sixty years old were felled to the ground.
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Clearly there was some concern about the possibility of protests. Ironically the body that was hellbent on felling these trees is also the body charged with protecting the environment – that is what we call a Tui billboard moment in New Zealand vernacular. In a case of overkill, Taranaki Regional Council marshalled their staff to patrol the entrances to the area. Why, there was even a boat patrolling the river access. They would have been very cold out there on the river for a few hours. Truly, it is mid-winter here and most of us feel a little too old to scale large trees in order to protect them, so the fear of the operation being disrupted by protest was unfounded.

But oh, how sad to see the needless desecration of handsome, well established trees. Despite their public relations spin, the Taranaki Regional Council didn’t consult widely. They preferred to talk to people who said what they wanted to hear. As the protesting voices grew, rather than taking another look at the plans and seeing whether saving the trees could be accommodated, they set about discrediting, denying and deriding the opposing voices.
053How anybody in their right mind could think that the hostile expanse of concrete flood wall, topped with barbed wire (it is doing double duty as a security wall for the meat packing works behind) was an appropriate form of town flood protection in this day and age is beyond comprehension. It looks like a prison wall. This is the face of Waitara in 2015. We regard it as simply shameful action by Taranaki Regional Council.
042While the chainsaws worked at one end of the row, the digger driver proved that you don’t need chainsaws at the other end – the might of the machine means you can break apart the trees. There was no sign that the men on the site felt any sorrow at the unceremonious felling.

Once were trees. The new view from our town bridge

Once were trees. The new view from our town bridge

With ever increasing population in urban areas, we had thought that the role of protecting mature and handsome trees fell increasingly upon our local bodies, particularly in public spaces. These trees had the potential to live for many hundreds of years without causing any harm or inconvenience to residents while enhancing the centre of Waitara. No more.

Will this pretty scene downstream be allowed to remain?

Will this pretty scene downstream be allowed to remain?

Earlier plans were to fell ALL the riverbank trees. There is fear that this might yet happen. I found this pretty scene just down the river a little further. I wonder if it, too, will suffer the same treatment in the next year or two because the engineer who designed the flood protection doesn’t think there is any place for trees on river banks.

There is no place like home

There is no place like home

Fortunately, I do not live in the town itself so I could come home to our own place with its many, very large trees to soothe my heavy heart. These at least are beyond the reach of the chainsaw-happy regional council.

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14 thoughts on “Gone in a morning – the loss of the Waitara riverbank pohutukawa

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Because pohutakawa will readily resprout, they are presumably going to have to remove the entire root balls, which after 60 to 70 years will be H U G E. Doing this on a steep river bank in the middle of winter is certainly going to be a messy business which we will be watching. It is a much bigger job than removing the tops.

      1. Nick

        More likely they will just use some hideous systemic herbicide I suspect. Shameful business.

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        Have you ever seen the size of hole left when a root system finally rots down? I don’t think you could risk that in a stopbank. But we will see what happens – this is a very public site.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Hear my hollow laugh. He replied to enquiries by quoting the PR press release of the regional council! Job done. Tick. Ask no questions. Jonathon Young, to save you asking.

  1. Pingback: Tikorangi Notes: Friday 19 June, 2015 | Tikorangi The Jury Garden

  2. Debbie

    I have no faith in the Council what so ever! This is disgusting, a natural land mark of many, historic to Waitara. Instead of investing thousands upon ugly sculptures that nobody wants, or millions on hideous eye sore buildings that nobody wants…. Increasing our rates and your own wages…. You decide in your infinite wisdom to come along and wreck havoc with the natural beauty of the river bank!!! Good one, no wonder Taranaki is like no other! They haven’t got a frivolous Council like ours!!!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I certainly understand your anger Debbie, but let us blame the right Council here. It is TARANAKI REGIONAL COUNCIL, that is responsible, not NPDC. Though TRC couldn’t get there without our local councillors falling over themselves to agree. The Roll of Shame includes Colin Johnston, Craig Macfarlane, Joe Rauner, Andrew Larsen, Roger Maxwell, Mike Davey and our local MP, Jonathan Young. Do not forget these names!

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