Havelock North resident and former mayor Jeff Whittaker has labelled the Napier Rd tree removal as completely retrograde.

The Hastings District Council made the decision to remove 30 trees within the next fortnight, in preparation for the laying of the new Hastings to Havelock North water main. Golden elms will be planted once the installation is complete.

"I think it's a ridiculous idea, they should start over and think again," Whittaker said.
"I was deputy mayor when we decided to plant the trees on Napier Rd. We decided to change the layout and place the trees in the middle."

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Prep work under way for Havelock North water main

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The current trees are of a mixed variety, including gleditsia, plane, melia and liquidambar.

The former mayor said a great deal of research went into choosing the trees, due to Hawke's Bay's climate.

"The reserve superintendent at the time said yes to those trees and he planted them because they could withstand the dry."

"It's extremely dry down the end of that road, there's a lot of shingle. Those trees have survived for 40 years and now they're just going to get ripped out. It's ridiculous."

Whittaker doesn't believe golden elms will thrive in the same way the current species have, and believes a lot more thought should go into the process.

"We did consider golden elms, but went with the decision of different species because we realised that golden elms wouldn't thrive nearly as well as some of the melias and others we put into Napier Rd."

The Hastings District Council stated that golden elms have been chosen as they match the specimens growing well in Karanema Drive.

The new trees will be planted in root retainers to ensure growth is constrained, ensure easy maintenance of the canopy into the future as well as minimising any potential interference with traffic or undesirable shading of any residential properties.

Council also specified that the new water main will be close to the grassed central median, within the root zone of the current trees.

Therefore, the decision has been made to remove the trees rather than risk compromising their strength and health, but Whittaker said different measures could be taken.

"The new water pipes could be installed further down the road from the trees. Forty years ago, council sat and made a serious decision to plant them in the middle of that road.

"Those trees were specifically picked for their survival in the conditions. There's enough room and enough road to stick the pipes somewhere else."

"They may not be the biggest, they may not be the best. But they are the best of what you're going to get growing in that area. I'm just aghast that they can make an executive decision to get rid of them," he said.