Iconic tree for chop after huge storm

By Michele Hunter

It stood in the grounds of Oropi School for 150 years - but yesterday the towering Norfolk Pine came crashing down.
Friday's storm proved too much for the grand historic tree on Oropi Rd, which took a battering in gale force winds and scattered heavy branches across the school.
Principal Andrew King said the remainder of the tree had to be cut down because a hole had been created, which would fill up with water and cause rotting.
The tree is so big it's taken two days to remove it.
Arborists yesterday brought the bulk of the tree down branch by branch, each one weighing about 20kg. Chainsawing begins today.
Mr King said the tree was an icon of Oropi and was understood to be 150-years-old, having been planted about 1860 when the school site was a soldiers' settlement. The school opened in 1899.
The tree, measuring two to three metres wide and 40m high, fell in a direction that saw it squash native bush, and propel branches through the children's jungle gym.
The rough weather also broke school spouting and fences were pushed on a lean.
Mr King said while he was sad to see the Norfolk Pine go the children were "pretty excited."
"They thought a tornado had ripped through the school," he said.
Oropi School plans to see whether some of the wood from the tree could be salvaged to make a plaque.
In Tauranga, winds reached speeds of up to 70km/h overnight and further along the Bay, Waihi was ravaged by strong gusts that reached 110km/h at 2am.
MetService forecaster Paul Mallinson said it was likely that isolated pockets in the district would have been buffeted by gusts of up to 130km/h.
The winds were being fuelled by a large low pressure system anchored off the south of New Zealand.

"It's the big pressure difference between the north and south of the country that's inducing the winds."
He expected the windy weather to subside today.
Meanwhile, all but "one or two" of the hundreds of Western Bay homes hit by power cuts in the the weekend's storm have been reconnected, Powerco spokesman Neil Holdom said this morning.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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