The story of the Monterey pine that stood on Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill for more than a century took another turn when a man alleged to have tried to sell its remains on Trade Me was charged with theft.
But as the remains were being removed from an Otahuhu property in South Auckland for return to its owner last night, a woman attacked it with a chisel, saying it should at least have a carving on it.
The man, who was yesterday taken to Otahuhu police station as bids for the online auction sat at $55, will appear in court next month after allegedly trying to sell the base section of the 125-year-old tree that former Maori activist Mike Smith attacked with a chainsaw in 1994.
The sale caught the attention of an arborist contractor whose Auckland property the remains were allegedly taken from.
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An Auckland Council spokesman said when the contractor became aware of the auction yesterday they contacted police who seized it for return to the contractor's yard - 15 years and one month after the tree was felled.
The spokesman said the remains were "in a poor state with rot and mould" adding: "Auckland Council will be in discussion with the Tupuna Maunga o Tamaki Makaurau Authority as to the circumstances of the remains' removal and future care.
The man, an arborist, yesterday confirmed he had been arrested and charged with theft by a person in a special relationship. He told the Herald he tried to donate the remains to the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
"I told them they should probably give it a waterblast and a coat of paint and sand it up because you can see all the cuts the guy has made in it and you can see where he got his chainsaw stuck."
The auction had been withdrawn last night.