Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Dawn of a new era for One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill is set to become nine-tree hill with trees being returned to the iconic Maungakiekie summit next weekend.

Six pohutukawa and three totara, grown from parent trees at the domain, will be planted where a Monterey pine once stood.

Some of the pohutukawa specimens had been sourced from seedlings found growing on the Monterey pine, the sole survivor of a grove of trees planted by Sir John Logan Campbell in the 1870s.

The tree was attacked twice by Maori activists in 1994 and again in 1999, and had to be removed in 2000 due to the risk of it collapsing.

Paul Majurey, chair of the Tpuna Maunga o Tamaki Makaurau Authority, said next week's replacement planting was an "historic moment" for Auckland.

"Planting the tihi of Maungakiekie has been 16 years in the making, and is an event to be shared and celebrated by all Aucklanders," Mr Majurey said.

The decision to plant a grove of trees to replace the old pine was made jointly last October by the authority and the Auckland Council.

The grove will be planted by council and local community members at a dawn planting ceremony at 7.30am next Saturday.

Nine trees had been selected during a process that took several years and was overseen by arborists, but the aim was for just a single pohutukawa or totara to remain after a decade.

"The conditions on the site are pretty harsh and exposed ... we're hoping at least one will survive," said tree specialist Gordon Ikin.

"We felt these were the two species that were the most appropriate, and had the connections as well as being able to withstand the climatic limitations and constraints on the site."

He said a fence and wind-cloth as well as a shelter-band of native shrubs, including the kiekie plant - after which Maungakiekie was named - would help protect the young trees and give them a better chance of survival.

Mr Ikin, the managing director of the Specimen Tree Company, had been involved from the time the seedlings were saved when the pine tree was removed.

Scott de Silva, Tpuna Maunga manager, said the 182m volcanic peak was an important memorial site for both Maori and Kiwis.

The replanting event next week is open to the public, and a shuttle will run between the Stardome Observatory and the planting site from 7am.

One Tree Hill

9 trees to be planted

6 pohutukawa, sourced from seedlings that were found growing on the old Monterey pine

3 totara, a species of podocarp tree endemic to New Zealand

1 tree is expected to survive after a decade

25-30m height of trees when fully grown

100+ yrs totara and pohutukawa can live for hundreds of years

- NZ Herald

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