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Gore District Council staff and contractors removed the 40-year-old tree from a vacant section in Broughton St using an excavator.
The section will be developed into a stormwater infiltration basin as part of the council’s Elizabeth St pipeline renewal project.
Council Three Waters project engineer Aaron Green said it was believed the kauri had been thrown out by a nursery 38 years ago.
"We’ve been told Crosbie and Candice Grieve rescued it and planted it in their section, where it has remained until today," he said on Wednesday.
"We wanted to know if we could save the kauri given the threat the species is facing from kauri dieback in the North Island.
"It’s also listed on our district plan’s significant tree register as a rare specimen in Southland worthy of protection."
Parks manager Keith McRobie said the trickiest part of the operation was delicately lying the tree on the flat deck without damaging it.
The tree’s removal started with an excavator digging a circle outside its dripline — the area under the outer circumference of the branches.
Two excavators and a loader crane were then employed to scoop up the kauri and place it on the transporter.
"We wrapped carpet around part of the trunk to protect the tree’s soft bark," Mr McRobie said.
The fact the kauri had survived Gore’s winter temperatures was a testament to the hardiness of the species outside its natural range, Mr McRobie said.
"We have relocated it to a more sheltered spot among native plants, which should allow it to flourish," he said.