Council apologises over felled tree


Friends of the Wakatipu Gardens and Reserves have been left stumped by Queenstown council’s decision to fell a 60-year-old oak tree.

The tree was given the chop last week without the local community group’s knowledge.

The council has since apologised for the “misunderstanding”.

A statement from the council says it cut down the tree with the intention of allowing young beech trees to flourish.

This is despite talks with Friends of the Wakatipu, which asked for it be retained because of its historical significance.

The incident has sparked a review of communication between the two organisations and the process for consulting on the management of trees.

Council infrastructure boss Peter Hansby agrees a review was required.

“We value our working relationship with the friends, who are dedicated to maintaining Queenstown Gardens and other reserves. Many of their members have taken a lifelong interest in the trees and we would never deliberately act to cause distress to them or the community which they also represent.”

Friends arborist Dave Finlin says the 14m-tall tree would have been worth between $50,000 and $70,000, “even were you able to replace it”.

Its loss is a “real tragedy”.

“It was a beautiful 60-year-old specimen tree and [it] also evoked the memory of the crucial gardens preservation work by the late Margaret Templeton and the late Jean Malpas. Without this often very courageous work, we would not have the public treasure we have now.”

The friends have suggested the timber be used to create a trophy, to be awarded during the gardens’ 150th birthday celebrations next year.

Otago Daily Times