By Philip English
A grove of trees may be planted on One Tree Hill following the demise of the lone pine on its summit.
The 125-year-old Monterey pine was attacked by protesters last week, leaving it with, at most, only a few years of life left.
After the attack and an earlier assault on the tree in 1994, there are chainsaw cuts 28cm deep into its trunk and ringbarking through nearly 90 per cent of its circumference.
The Auckland City manager of parks services, Cameron Parr, said the time had come to start the resource consent process for its removal.
If it showed signs of an accelerated decline through a lean of more than 30cm or the loss of most of its needles, an emergency removal by crane and helicopter would be required.
Mr Parr said that planting several trees was one option for the summit, even if the multiple planting was used to shelter a single more valuable specimen.
Sir Hugh Kawharu, a Ngati Whatua kaumatua, said the entirety of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) was tapu to his tribe, which occupied the mountain at the time of the arrival of Pakeha.
Ngati Whatua had nursed a grievance over several generations because of the circumstances of the mountain's loss.
Through attacking the tree the protesters attacked the mountain, he said.
"If anyone wants to make a political statement involving the mana of Ngati Whatua there is a clear protocol. Take it to Orakei, the marae ... To take unilateral action of that sort ... without discussing it with Ngati Whatua is an insult."
From early in the 17th century until the mid-1850s a lone, sacred totara occupied the summit until a settler chopped it down for fencing or firewood.
Photographs from early this century show three trees. Two pines survived until one was destroyed in 1962.