Sod’s law for poorly tree


A neglected Queenstown tree, planted by Transport Minister Simon Bridges, is being nursed back to health.

The native kowhai was planted in December last year to mark the start of work on a controversial $22 million bridge at Kawarau Falls.

But then authorities seemed to forget about it. The media was contacted by a concerned member of the public, which has spurred the wheels of bureaucracy back into life.

Not that anyone wants to talk about it, particularly.

Bridges’ Beehive-based spin doctors say he’s aware the tree is poorly – but reckons it isn’t a ministerial matter and something he wouldn’t comment on.

Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay, who also helped turn the first sod, was in back-to-back meetings and couldn’t be contacted.

NZ Transport Agency project boss Phil Dowsett says: “The tree may not be dead and the construction company is continuing to water it in the hope it will recover.”

Queenstown Garden Company boss Liam Jones reckons the government shouldn’t be stumped over the state of the tree.

“Planting a kowhai tree in summer – that isn’t the ideal time, unless it is a heavily irrigated area or watered on a very regular basis. Heat and dry conditions can put stress on the plant.”

He said other factors could have led to the plant’s demise – including pests or disease.

The tree marked the bridge project, part of the Government’s accelerated regional roading package expected to be finished by winter 2017.

The existing 90-year-old, one-lane bridge will become part of the Queenstown Trail cycling and walking network.