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It would be "inappropriate" to pressure Ngati Whatua over the planting of new trees on One Tree Hill, says Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard.
"A lot of work is being done on it at the moment and it would be quite inappropriate to pressure Ngati Whatua just for the sake of a few months," he said.
After removing the lone monterey pine from the summit in October 2000 because two chainsaw attacks had made unstable, the Auckland City Council organised a tree-planting ceremony in June 2002.
But Ngati Whatua declined to participate because other iwi were invited, saying its Treaty of Waitangi land claim, which includes One Tree Hill, would be undermined. The tribe then said it would not participate in planting new trees until the claims process was concluded. Auckland City Council agreed.
The issue flared again over the past few days when two pohutukawa were planted. The first, by a mystery planter, was removed by the council. The second, planted by broadcaster Paul Holmes on Monday evening, was gone by the time council staff arrived yesterday morning.
Mr Holmes' actions were widely regarded as a publicity stunt for his new show on Prime.
The mayor said the council understood Aucklanders were keen to see the nine young trees destined for One Tree Hill's summit in the ground as soon as possible.
"We're aware it's a much-loved Auckland landmark," he said.