The end of an era is nigh for a significant Hastings tree in Frimley Park, which after years of failing health is set to be felled next week.
At more than 150 years old, the Populus Deltoides poplar tree in the park was at one point one of the largest and oldest of its type in the southern hemisphere, and is listed as a notable tree on the New Zealand Tree Register.
Because of its age and status, over the years the tree has been monitored on a regular basis, and in 2018 and 2020 its canopy was reduced for safety, removing its title as the tallest deciduous tree in New Zealand.
Since October 2020, the area around the tree has been fenced off due to safety concerns and ongoing surveys have found the tree has been moving, recently moving so much it caused the large cavity at its base to completely close up.
This has triggered the decision to fully remove the tree, a course of action that was agreed to by Council last year should it get to this point, and outlined in the Frimley Park Reserve Management Plan.
At the same time, the opportunity is being taken to remove another protected tree nearby, a Big Cone Pine, as it has been in gradual decline over the last few years, and is now completely dead.
On Monday morning, September 11, Frimley School has been invited to gather at the tree to perform a karakia before its removal starts – weather depending, expected to take about a week.
Hastings councillor and former Frimley Primary School principal Malcolm Dixon said the poplar tree in particular was a highly regarded feature of the park.
“Our community has a strong connection to all the trees in this park, and over its years of decline we have taken action to preserve this tree but it is now at the point where its removal is the safest and most pragmatic course of action.
“This tree has provided an authentic playground for many children over many decades.”
Succession planning for this tree has been underway for almost 30 years, and 20 years ago a former council nurseryman planted four seedlings from the parent tree, ensuring the DNA and historic connection lived on in Frimley Park.
Members of the local Woodturners Guild have signalled they would like some of the poplar wood once it’s felled. Most of the remainder of the material from both trees will be chipped for use in public gardens, or around trees within the park or nearby.
7 September 2023
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