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Hikanui Pā tree removals and revegetation

In November 2023, Council resolved to remove the stand of exotic trees (pines, macrocarpas, and gums) from the registered archaeological site - Hikanui Pā, following severe damage to the site during Cyclone Gabrielle. The remaining stand is now more exposed than ever to wind throw and therefore likely to cause further damage to the pā site. The removal of the remaining stand will allow for stabilisation matting to be installed and the planting of indigenous revegetation. Canopy coverage loss

The tree removals will start during the week of 4 March 2024 and take up to six weeks to complete (weather dependent). The project will involve the removal of trees on and around the archaeological site using heavy machinery and, for part of the time, a helicopter.

Due to the danger posed by the machinery operating within the reserve and trucks needing to access it, the whole of Tainui Reserve will be closed to the public for the duration of the work. The only exception to this will be the grass area between Keith Sands Grove and Keirunga Road which will remain open, except during helicopter operations as the helicopter will land in this area for refuelling. Advanced notice will be provided to nearby residents prior to helicopter activity.

The works are being undertaken under an archaeological authority from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and will be supervised by Archaeology Hawke’s Bay. Treescape has been contracted to undertake the tree removals.

Frequently asked questions

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Hikanui Pā is one of two registered archaeological sites within Tainui Reserve. It sits on the middle ridgeline within the reserve and contains visible remnants of occupation, including pits and terraces.

The site has extensive exotic tree coverage, particularly macrocarpa, gum and pine.

During Cyclone Gabrielle a large number of trees failed, particularly macrocarpas and gums on the south-western flank of the ridgeline. The size of root balls pulled from the ground as trees fell caused extensive damage around the site.

In mid-2023 the site was made safe for public access with debris cleared and fallen trees removed where possible without further damaging the ground.

Arboricultural and archaeological assessments were carried out following Cyclone Gabrielle.  While the site was made safe for public access, the stand of trees is now more exposed leaving the site at risk from further tree failure, which would potentially irreversibly damage the archaeological features.

Approximately six weeks, weather dependent.

The flat grass area between Keith Sands Grove and Keirunga Road entrances will remain open during work, except when a helicopter is assisting with lifting trees. During this period the helicopter will use this area for refuelling and will be closed to the public.

Keirunga Reserve and Tanner Reserve, the closest reserves to Tainui Reserve, will be open during the works.

For the first one to two years the focus will be on indigenous replanting, starting shortly after the tree removals.  This, together with installation of geotextile matting, will help stabilise the site following the removal of the trees.  While the site will initially look bare the replanting will progress rapidly, providing improved biodiversity and a more appropriate vegetation cover for this unique site.

Council is standing up a care group to be involved in the revegetation.  If you would like to join this group, please email

An archaeological authority is required to undertake this work, which was issued by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in January 2024. The works will be overseen by Archaeology Hawke’s Bay, as a requirement of the authority.

Mana whenua have been involved in the extensive planning for this site, including working with Council on the revegetation plan.

Media Releases

Hikanui Pā tree felling to begin

Hikanui Pā tree felling to begin

The removal of a stand of exotic trees at Hikanui Pā within Tainui Reserve is scheduled to begin on Monday, March ...

7 March 2024

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Trees to be removed from Hikanui Pā in Tainui Reserve

Trees to be removed from Hikanui Pā in Tainui Reserve

Trees threatening Hikanui Pā after being left vulnerable by Cyclone Gabrielle will be removed from the top of Tain...

16 November 2023

Read more


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