16 memorial trees to be felled

By John Cousins

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Sixteen trees planted as memorials to the dead are to be felled in Tauranga's McLaren Falls Park.

The trees were planted in the wrong places and, 20 years later, are coming within range of high tension power lines.

Tauranga City Council has announced its plans to fell the trees which include five lakeside rimu and kauri below the entrance to Marshall's Animal Park. A plaque at the base of one of the trees says it was planted in memory of John Elliot, 1918-1992, "strong and true as the trees he loved".

The council wants to hear from anyone associated with the memorial trees before they are felled in July. A few of the trees had plaques but most did not.

Bay of Plenty Tree Society chairman Dave Kershaw said the planting of memorial trees was stopped years ago because it was getting out of control and too difficult to manage.

The society which has planted most of the trees in the park has seen other trees removed because they were encroaching on power lines or planted too close together.

Mr Kershaw believed the powerlines would have been there first.

Although he did not like to see trees being chopped down, he said the purpose of the lake was to generate electricity. "We have to be cognisant of what goes in there."

Mr Kershaw said the society usually gave the power lines a wide berth and he suspected the memorial trees were planted by families of the deceased under the jurisdiction of the council.

Brookfield resident Rebecca Goldingham, who was with her family enjoying the autumn colours at the park, wondered why the trees could not be saved by trimming them. "That is what we do in town."

Mr Kershaw defended removing the rimu and kauri, saying they looked terrible topped.

Other memorials found by the Bay of Plenty Times were to Les and Mary Pratt, who died in 1993 and 1996 respectively, and Nancy Connelly, who died in 1994. Her plaque said "she loved the outdoors life".

Ten of the 16 memorial trees were on the bank of the Pin Oak flat, overlooking the lake and Waterfall Track car park. All are natives.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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