Festive tree a tall order for locals

By Peter de Graaf


Northland's biggest Christmas tree is due to be topped with a fittingly huge star in a tricky operation today.

Northland Tree Climbing Association members have been helping locals scale and decorate the 20m Norfolk pine at the corner of Station Rd and Memorial Drive in Kaikohe.

The giant Christmas tree is one of the attractions in the Shine Kaikohe Festival and will be officially lit up at nightfall on Saturday, with entertainment around the tree from 6.30pm.

Volunteers have also been decorating Broadway with ribbons and flags, and are working on a Christmas grotto. Other events include a parade, an attempt at a world record for mass guitar playing, an interactive nativity scene and a buskers' day.

On Saturday, professional tree climbers were again on hand to help locals climb the tree and hang their own decorations.

Northland Tree Climbing Association spokesman Peter Orchard said the idea was to encourage the community to take ownership of their trees, rather than just seeing them as a visual distraction. They also set up a flying fox next to Kaikohe's skateboard park as an added attraction for the kids.

Mr Orchard said he always told the children taking part about the importance of trees.

"I like to point out to them that the oxygen we breathe in has been breathed out by a tree, and the carbon they breathe in is turned into wood. Trees and oxygen-breathing species like us get on so well."

Mike Shaw, one of the festival organisers, was grateful for Mr Orchard's support.

"Getting the youth involved in selecting the tree and decorating it is real community involvement. This is what the Shine Kaikohe Festival is all about, giving our young people a chance to shine," he said.

The festival reflected an upsurge in confidence and pride in Kaikohe, Mr Shaw said.

The town scooped seven of the nine awards at the recent Tall Poppies business awards and, in the past year, Kaikohe has won regional, national and international awards in dairying, unicycling, kapa haka and automotive technology.

- Northern Advocate

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