This following submission questions the reasoning behind the proposed felling of the Keirunga oaks.

American oaks may not live as long as their European counterparts but 400-year-old trees are not uncommon and using this as a benchmark the red oaks at Keirunga are teenagers.

I have spent my working life in horticulture in Hawke's Bay completing an apprenticeship at Wilsons Nursery Pakowhai over 50 years ago. From there I established and ran a successful apple and stone fruit tree nursery for over 35 years supplying trees to orchardists throughout New Zealand.

I have always had an interest in large ornamental trees. About 50 years ago I attended a lecture by the internationally respected expert on tree management, Dr Alex Shigo.

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Shigo was widely considered the "father of modern arboriculture" and a university-trained tree pathologist. His study of tree biology led to a broadened understanding of compartmentalization of decay in trees.

His ideas eventually led to many changes and additions to commercial tree care practices and the now accepted way to prune a tree.

After attending his lecture I bought several of his books eg, Modern Arboriculture, read many of his papers and put into practice his methods of tree care.

A few years later I was given the opportunity to implement his methods of tree regeneration on the historic pin oak, Quercus palustris (a member of the American red oak family), in front of the Anglican Church Havelock North. The tree was planted in 1874 as a 3-year-old, by Tommy Tanner.

About 40 years ago there was some concern about the risk to the public from falling branches. Even though the tree had rot in the trunk the decision was made to save the tree by reducing the canopy which in turn reduced the loading on the branches.
As described by Shigo, lower branches were saved to maintain an even sap flow into the upper branches.

Forty years on the tree, now 145 years old, is still standing with healthy shoots and leaves appearing each spring. It's a living example of what can be done to maintain the healthy life of an historic tree.

In comparison I am appalled at the proposed landscape vandalism of the 80-year-old red oaks at Keirunga which are just over half the age of the St Luke's pin oak.

The Keirunga oaks, unlike the St Luke's oak, have no visible signs of internal rot, and very few falling branches.

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These trees are healthy, to fell them would be an insult to the man who had the foresight to invest so much time and money into the site, planting the oaks then gifting it all to the local population to enjoy.

All that is wrong with the Arthur's Path exotic walkway is years of council neglect, even basic management has been at the lower end of acceptability.

To destroy the site and replant with a debatable range of plants must not be allowed to happen. Based on past history the council is not up to such a major redevelopment.
The site would quickly revert to nothing more than a wasteland. I am prepared to speak to this submission.

* Joe Leete served a 4-year horticultural apprenticeship from 1959-1963 and started his own nursery in 1964.