20,000 trees 'wasted' if land next to Route K sold

By John Cousins

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A Tauranga City Council plan to sell a 38-hectare block of land beside Route K has run into strong resistance from volunteers who have spent years restoring the habitat in Kopurererua Valley.

The Kopurererua Valley Rotary Centennial Trust fired a broadside across the sale plan during public submissions this week on the council's 10-year plan.

The land adjoins Route K and State Highway 29, on the eastern side of the toll road and includes several houses.

Trust spokesman Ian Wilson said the planting of 20,000 trees between the golf course and the block of land would be wasted if the area was lost to private ownership.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

The trust has constructed a walkway across the land as part of the recently completed final link in the valley's main central pathway. It also contains the Tauriko School's 2007 commemorative planting of 200 rimu trees.

"The trees are already starting to show in the valley."

Much of the 38 hectares was low lying and prone to flooding and the trust's plan was to turn this area into a lake that doubled as a silt retention basin. The trust also planned to convert one of the houses into a visitor and student centre.

Councillor Murray Guy asked why, when the council was looking at what to sell, they were not provided with this information. "Your submission has made a great impact on me."

Councillors Catherine Stewart and Larry Baldock said they were unaware of all the work that had taken place on the land.

Another proposed land sale that has drawn widespread criticism from submitters was the Aspen Tree Reserve in Willow St, a small block of land that, until recently, held Tauranga's landmark aspen tree. Historian Jinty Rorke said it was an historically significant site. "The open space with its central tree have been part of the landscape of the township, borough and city since the early 1860s."

It was likely that the tree grew from a fence post put in by missionaries Baker and Clark at the time they built the Mission Institute, an agricultural training school for Maori.

Mrs Rorke offered her time to prepare an interpretation panel for the reserve which she suggested could be replanted with an aspen, elm or willow tree. Willow St was named after the willows that grew in the area until the 1880s.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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