Community divided over fate of trees

Neither of the two significant sequoia trees in Palmerston appears in imminent danger of being cut down.

There is local opposition to the trees being cut down and there are plans to plant more and begin an official register of notable Palmerston trees.

The 140-year-old sequoia tree in the grounds of St Mary's Anglican church seems to be in less danger, despite the power lines company apparently having been given permission in December to remove it. The Anglican church has twice deferred a decision to cut it down. Matt Ragg, of Queenstown, has applied for a protection order on the tree.

Its fate was discussed at the annual general meeting of the 50-strong Palmerston and Hampden congregations of the Anglican church in Hampden last Sunday.

The meeting went ‘‘into committee'' for a short time to discuss the situation, Hampden Anglican church people's warden Paul Havord said.

Members of the congregation are said to be ‘‘divided'' on the issue and ‘‘upset'' about the continuing discussion.

What was planted on the church land was the business of the church and no-one else's, Mr Havord said. The church did not want to upset people, but consideration had to be given for water and sewerage pipes below the street, which could be affected by the roots of the tree.

Mr Ragg has applied to have the 140 year old sequoia included in the Waitaki District plan. He hoped the tree could be registered in time and saved, he said.

The Palmerston Lions club had ‘‘not come to a conclusion'' about cutting down the sequoia tree in the Palmerston town centre, club spokesman Ronald Sheat said. The club was concerned the tree was significant in the history of Palmerston.

The owner of that tree, Nigel Moir, of Dunedin, had given permission for the club - which looked after the goldfield heritage site around the tree - to cut it down if it wished.

Waihemo Community Board member Ken Brown said he was keen to see a register of valuable trees in the town set up.

It would take some time to compile a register of trees but it would stop the unhappy division in the town over their removal from developing in the future.

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