A giant gum tree that became a Haumoana landmark has been cut down due to rot.

The gum, on the corner of Haumoana Rd and Mill Rd (known to locals as "Gumtree Corner"), could be seen from off the Haumoana coastline and Te Mata Peak. It is unclear exactly how old the tree was.

Local historian Keith Newman said the tree had been specifically mentioned in newspaper articles during the second opening of Black Bridge in October 1956.

"Like its predecessor, the new Black Bridge became an essential link between Clive and Haumoana and points beyond, forking off left into Haumoana and right into Te Awanga with the massive gum tree, believed to be one of the largest in the country in the middle of the fork."


Sixty-eight years earlier, when the first Black Bridge opened in 1888, the newspaper made a possible mention of the tree, with residents celebrating the opening of the bridge with a "monster picnic among in the blue gums".

Hastings Councillor Ann Redstone, who has lived in Haumoana for more than 30 years, said it was a local landmark, most commonly used to give directions.

"Every time you give someone directions you say turn left at the gum tree or turn right at the gum tree.

"We used to play games, as we were driving towards it with the kids and say who could see it first?

"It was very high and you could certainly see it before you came over the bridge."

She said her understanding was the gum was one of the biggest in New Zealand.

"There's another big one in Havelock North, but I've got a feeling that one (Haumoana) was bigger.

An old black and white photo of the tree. Photo / Supplied
An old black and white photo of the tree. Photo / Supplied

"We were very sad to lose it, it was a real landmark and an icon."


She said she thought it was between 100-200 years old.

Redstone said while the community was upset about losing the tree, most understood it had to be cut down due to the rot.

"Once it was posted on Facebook that it was rotten in the middle and possibly dangerous, the community was very understanding.

"Otherwise I think they might have chained themselves to it."

Redstone said she would still be using the stump as a way to give directions.

"I'll be saying turn left at the gum stump now."

Owner of Jim's Trees Hawke's Bay, Wayne Gear, said most of the trees he deals with are just 2 tonnes, but this gum tree was more than 100 tonnes.

Gear said some of the pieces of wood cut up from the tree were 3-and-a-half tonnes, roughly the size of a car.

He said only about 20 per cent of the wood was good for milling, as most of it had rotten holes through it.

At least some of the wood may be used for firewood, he said.