There have been calls for the release of an arborist’s report which formed the basis of the decision to cut down Timaru’s famous ‘Champagne Tree’, but the developer of the nearby land claims no such report does not exist.
The tree, which once housed Timaru’s Christmas star, was cut down on Thursday morning, sparking disbelief from neighbors and locals, who were unaware of its felling.
On Thursday, Yedo Investments released a statement that “an assessment and feedback from arborists has brought to light that the health of the tree and its suitability for its current location pose a significant risk to the health and safety of surrounding properties. “.
Friday, The Herald Timaru asked Damon Odey of Yedo Investments if the mentioned tree growers’ reports could be made public.
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He said there was none and explained that the arborist had verbally conveyed the information to the owners of the tree, Gary and Robyn Borland.
Odey said the arborist told the Borlands the base of the tree was full of rot, which he says is “clearly visible now”.
“There were about four to five years left before he came across a house.”
Borland’s decision was the “right one”, he said.
He asked that they be left alone as they had suffered negative abuse.
Gary Borland publicly said the tree was “healthy” in November, but a statement released by the Borlands mentioned a “noticeable lean” that had “recently developed”.
However, Brad Cadwallader, an arborist, who is also a board member of the New Zealand Notable Trees Trust, and who had visited the tree several times to obtain photos and measurements, for the New Zealand Tree Register, said that the tree had always had a “historic wind-induced lean”.
Looking at the footage of the felled tree and its stump, he said he looked “very healthy”.
He suggested that the arborist’s report on the tree be published, so that it could be quoted directly.
The tree was in the process of being listed as a significant tree in Timaru District Council’s district plan, with the Borlands saying on Thursday that the tree ‘may have been protected by now’ if the council had added the tree to its list of trees. earlier.
Cadwallader said there was “such a long process” to get a tree on a district plan.
However, it wasn’t hard to see that the tree was significant, he said.
“It was part of the historic fabric of the community.
“I think a tree of that stature, with that kind of heritage, is urban gold. If we can’t keep a tree of that importance, we’ve lost our way.”
Mary Cameron, a resident of Wai-iti Rd, whose property is 100m from where the tree was, said she believed the felling of the tree meant progress.
“I have a view of the whole Caroline Bay now, it’s beautiful,” she said.
That view may not be around for long, as Yedo Investments bought the 6,600 sq m site that sits between his home and the Borlands in 2019 and plans to develop an 11-lot development on the site that once housed the building. South Canterbury RSA.
“When things go down, other things go up,” Cameron said.
She said some of her neighbors also shared her view because “it makes a big difference because of the view”.
However, historian Christopher Templeton disagrees.
“I’m sad he’s gone, not only does it show the life of the original generation, it’s also a tangible symbol of the pioneering women of South Canterbury.
“It is a pity that a living memorial has not received the attention it deserves.
“Women’s history is so overlooked, and it was a growing symbol of her [Elizabeth Rhodes] contribution to South Canterbury. It was his living tombstone.
Templeton, whose roles include junior vice-president of the South Canterbury Historical Society, fellow of the Timaru Civic Trust and director of Historic Places Aotearoa, said he was concerned about the future of other significant buildings and monuments history in the region.
“People don’t understand the history and the social history of the heritage behind them.
He also said it was important to speed up the process for heritage sites and objects entering the district plan.
“There’s a lot of external and internal pressure and not enough hands at the pump.”
Templeton, who has been in the district for 30 years, said the Champagne Tree was also one of the few tangible remaining physical items of the original members of the Rhodes family, one of Timaru’s founding families – the only thing left. is The Levels cottage.
Timaru District Council communications officer Stephen Doran said an arborist report on the tree was last compiled by the council “several years ago”.
An arborist’s report would not have been necessary for it to be added to the district plan.
“It would have been on the plan at the request of the owner and a report should not have been part of it.”