Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard has criticised Paul Holmes for planting a tree on One Tree Hill as a publicity stunt ahead of his new show on Prime last night.
Mr Hubbard described the move as "inappropriate" at a sacred place.
The tree itself lasted only a few hours. The young pohutukawa planted on top of Auckland's most celebrated summit was removed by a mystery person yesterday.
Auckland City Council contractors went up One Tree Hill to remove the tree at 6.30am today but found no sign of it other than a hole in the ground, council arboriculture manager, Mark Bowater.
Holmes, with the assistance of a landscape gardener, planted the two-metre high tree in front of Prime TV cameras yesterday, saying it was time for Auckland City Council and Ngati Whatua to decide what would replace the 125-year-old Monterey pine damaged by Maori activist Mike Smith in 1994.
The tree remained for several years before it was felled by the council in October, 2000, because it was too damaged to survive.
The council said today it had nine trees to plant on the hilltop and had a valid resource consent but it needed Ngati Whatua approval before they were planted.
Mr Bowater said Ngati Whatua did not want anything planted on One Tree Hill until it had settled its treaty claims which included the future of the hill.
Mr Hubbard told National Radio: "I believe it's quite inappropriate that for such a sacred and iconic place such as One Tree Hill, it is used to promote a TV show."
He said over the last 10-12 years a number of trees had been planted on the site, but all had been removed.
Once treaty claims had been settled with Ngati Whatua, which would be within six months, the council and iwi would plant trees on the hill, he said.
"The trees are sitting in the nursery quietly growing, and they're all ready to be planted."
He said the message to aspiring media stars and others looking to get their hands dirty by planting a tree on One Tree Hill was not to bother.