Root protection for iconic tree

Ngāi Tahu Property’s doing its bit to protect one of Queenstown’s most iconic trees.

The iwi-affiliated company’s building a deck over the root-protection zone of a protected Wellingtonia tree on land beside 1876.

Part of the Ballarat Street bar’s courtyard area’s located in the dripline and root-protection zone, and the surface has been regularly broken up by root growth.

That exposes the roots and increases their vulnerability to damage, while also creating an uneven and unsafe surface.

The new triangular deck, about 35 square metres, will be raised 250 millimetres above the ground to provide clearance over the exposed surface roots, with up to 13 concrete piles stabilising the deck, and raising it above ground level.

The piles will be strategically installed to avoid damaging the tree’s surface roots, and while minor excavations will be required to install them, contractors will use an ‘Air Vac’ excavation system, which enables roots to be identified and pile locations adjusted to avoid or minimise disturbing vital tree roots.

One of two Wellingtonias on the site, they’re known as the ‘Trees of Justice’.

Both were planted about 1876 outside what was the courthouse by Lake County Council clerk Philip Boult.

He’d raised the Wellingtonia from seed given to him by explorer and leading nature scientist Dr James Hector and decided to plant them by the courthouse to provide shade for defendants.

According to an information panel, he got to experience the fruits of his own labour about 1885 after he embezzled money from the council and was sentenced to five years’ jail.

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