Vandals force One Tree Hill to be locked

One of Auckland's best known landmarks, the iconic One Tree Hill, will be locked at night to stop anti-social behaviour by vandals and hoons.

Car access to the summit will be closed from 11pm to 7am but people would still be able to walk the one kilometre to the top, said the Auckland City Council.

The council said it would install gates at a cost of $30,000 because of the "increasing level of anti-social behaviour taking place there at night.

"The summit is not a safe place at night, and the time and cost of cleaning up after teenagers and other groups that have gathered there in vehicles is high," said Councillor Greg Moyle, chairman of the Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee.

He said the move should stop the drinking, vandalism and crime on the summit but police and security monitoring in the park would continue.

One Tree Hill has been without the tree that gave it its name since 2000, six years after Maori activist Mike Smith took to the 125-year-old monterey pine with a chainsaw.

Strenuous efforts to save the two-tonne tree failed and it was felled after it was declared a danger to public safety.

Eight years after the felling of the tree removed a "living Auckland icon", and changed the city's skyline, a replacement tree had yet to be planted.

One Tree Hill was known to Maori as Maungakiekie or "totara that stands alone", after a totara stick used to sever the umbilical cord of a high-born baby boy named Koroki.

Legend says the stick was stuck in the ground above the buried placenta and grew into a sacred landmark.

A totara or pohutukawa - it is not clear which - was felled for firewood in the 1850s by "some goth of a settler", as a newspaper report at the time put it.

Then-landowner Sir John Logan Campbell twice tried to grow natives trees on the summit and failed.

The second attempt involved puriri surrounded by a shelter-belt of pines. The natives died, but five pines survived.

Another native was planted about 1910 but died.

By 1940 only two pines were left and in the early 1960s the second-to-last tree was felled in an axe and saw attack by vandals.

- NZPA

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