Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

'Shocking' $20k Christmas tree to get a dress-up

Rotorua's Christmas tree.
Rotorua's Christmas tree.

Promises have been made to improve Rotorua's much maligned Christmas tree for future festive seasons.

Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait described the tree as "just shocking" at a meeting of the Rotorua Lakes Council's operations and monitoring committee yesterday.

A number of councillors agreed with Mrs Raukawa-Tait's frank appraisal of the council's new tree that has also been the subject of a number of less than complimentary letters to the editor in the Rotorua Daily Post.

Council Inner City Revital-isation portfolio leader and councillor Karen Hunt said she had taken on board criticism surrounding the tree and promised it would be a lot better next Christmas.

"It's not festive-like," Mrs Raukawa-Tait said.

"I'm wondering if this coming New Year and Christmas can we please put some nice coloured lights or something on it, because it's just shocking."

The council spent an estimated $20,000 on the tree in the City Focus late last year after the previous tree was damaged beyond repair after being blown over. The new tree was designed to last 15-plus years and was built locally.

Ms Hunt said at least the new tree was robust, would not get blown over and would last for years.

"We needed a tree fairly quickly.

"We weren't going to be caught like other councils were, getting one from China or not having it arrive, so we used a local supplier.

"We appreciate that yes there are improvements that could be made and yes we would like to make it more colourful - that will be part of the future focus for the heart of the city centre."

She said wooden elements for the tree would also be considered.

But councillor Peter Bentley said Rotorua already had a better option.

He said Rotorua's old Christmas tree was located outside the former government tourism bureau, the i-SITE on Fenton St, but was removed in 1982 due to disease.

"A sequoia was planted at the Village Green to replace the old tree, which even has power running to it," he said.

"One would think, a - it's paid for, b - it doesn't require storage, and it's a beautiful specimen. Why don't you use that? It's also made of wood."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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