A grove of trees will be planted at the summit of Auckland's Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill next year - more than 15 years after the old pine was removed.

The announcement for the new grove of trees was made at the summit of the maunga by the Tupuna Maunga o Tamaki Makaurau Authority in partnership with Auckland Council.

A 125-year-old Monterey pine was removed in 2000 after it became unsafe following chainsaw attacks in 1994 and 1999.

Local iwi had blocked plans to replace the tree until they reached a Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown.

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The obelisk at the top of the peak dominates views of One Tree Hill.
The obelisk at the top of the peak dominates views of One Tree Hill.

But a planting plan is now in the works for the winter of 2016.

Mayor Len Brown said today the maunga was an "iconic symbol" for Auckland.

A small grove of three totara and six pohutukawa trees will be planted with a shelter band of native shrubs, to ensure the "optimum chance" of survival in the exposed summit conditions.

A process of selection will be undertaken by arborists over the course of several years as stronger trees emerge - eventually, in one or two decades, leaving a single tree standing, he said.

"The loss of the tree was a symbol of what divided us. The return of a tree is a symbol of what unites us," Mr Brown said.

The 125-year-old Monterey pine was removed from Auckland's One Tree Hill in 2000 after chainsaw attacks. Photo / Getty Images
The 125-year-old Monterey pine was removed from Auckland's One Tree Hill in 2000 after chainsaw attacks. Photo / Getty Images

"Aucklanders have been waiting for this moment for 15 years. Five years after the uniting of Auckland and a year after the establishment of the Maunga Authority, we will once again have an iconic symbol of what brings all together."

Maungakiekie-Tamaki councillor Denise Krum, whose ward includes the Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill summit, welcomed the news that trees are returning.

While her preference would have been for one tree immediately on One Tree Hill, she "acknowledges the logistical reality" of the need for a grove at this point.

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Maungakiekie had long been one of the most iconic places in Auckland and there would be much celebration come planting next year, she said.

Aucklanders would have to wait a while to see the sole tree outcome of this decision by the Tupuna Maunga Authority, but at least they would know there was growth progress, she said.

Tupuna Maunga o Tamaki Makaurau Authority chair Paul Majurey said the return of native plants to the summit marks a "significant milestone" for the iconic ancestral mountain.

"It is particularly meaningful to reach a decision on the replanting of the Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill tihi [summit] following the recent one year anniversary of the Maunga Authority, which in itself is a significant milestone in the enhancement and restoration of our Tupuna Maunga," he said.

Deputy chairwoman Christine Fletcher said the replanting his been a long time coming and would be celebrated by all Aucklanders.

"I vividly recall how devastating it was to see our beloved icon, the one tree of Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill, come down following discontent around the Treaty settlement process for the Tupuna Maunga," she said.

"Now, 15 years on, the settlement has passed and we are beginning a new chapter in the history of Tamaki Makaurau's ancestral mountains."

An artist's impression 5 years on: The grove of three totara and six pohutukawa with kiekie. Image / Supplied
An artist's impression 5 years on: The grove of three totara and six pohutukawa with kiekie. Image / Supplied

The young trees that will be planted have been grown from parent trees on Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill.

The chequered history of the tree on the prominent cone has been a sore point in Auckland for decades.

Settlers reportedly cut down the first native tree at the summit in the 1850s.

Sir John Logan Campbell replanted a grove of totara and pine trees in the 1870s but only one Monterey pine at the summit survived.

In 1994, Maori activist Mike Smith took a chainsaw to the pine out of frustration over the Government limiting Maori Treaty settlements to $1 billion.

He was arrested for "interfering with a tree without resource consent" and convicted and sentenced to nine month's periodic detention.

Relatives of Smith's then attacked the tree with a chainsaw in 1999.

The chainsaw used in the first attack was put up for sale on auction site Trade Me in 2007, but later withdrawn after complaints.

A young Pohutukawa seedling sprouts from the lone pine tree on OneTree Hill. Photo / David White
A young Pohutukawa seedling sprouts from the lone pine tree on OneTree Hill. Photo / David White

Last year, a man who allegedly tried to sell the remains of the solitary Monterey pine on Trade Me was charged with theft.

As the remains were being removed from an Otahuhu property in South Auckland, a woman attacked it with a chisel, saying it should at least have a carving on it.

The sale caught the attention of an arborist contractor whose Auckland property the remains were allegedly taken from.

The spokesman said at the time the remains were "in a poor state with rot and mould".