Archaeologists and arborists team up

Delta arborists work on Riddell’s farm building site on Arbor Day. PHOTOS: PETER PETCHEY
Delta arborists work on Riddell’s farm building site on Arbor Day. PHOTOS: PETER PETCHEY
Heritage plants and heritage properties are both worth saving, but when one invades the other, neither can benefit.

Heritage New Zealand archaeologist Nikole Wills said a team of five arborists from Delta have helped rescue a farm building at the Hereweka Harbour Cone property on the Otago Peninsula.

The building was built by early settler Walter Riddell in the 1860s and housed stables and a cowshed.

"It was associated with early farming on the peninsula," Ms Wills said.

A nearby macrocarpa hedge had grown so big that branches were resting on the building and had actually entered the stables, making it close to collapse.

"The building was both threatened by the branches and the branches were also holding it up in places."

A stables and cowshed dating from the 1860s emerges from an overgrown macrocarpa hedge.
A stables and cowshed dating from the 1860s emerges from an overgrown macrocarpa hedge.
The arborists donated a day’s free work recently on Arbor Day to help tackle the overgrowth and help rescue the heritage property.

“This was a great collaboration between archaeologists and arborists," Ms Wills said.

"Arborists are the best people to manage heritage trees and trees on archaeological sites because of their arboricultural expertise.”

Delta arborist Rimu Tane said he enjoyed the unusual nature of the project.

“This was a great chance for us as arborists to use our skillset to help preserve a piece of the Otago Peninsula history.

"We were initially concerned that removing the tree limbs that had fallen on to the building might cause further damage; but with a bit of planning and careful rigging it all worked out and afterwards it was easier to appreciate the size of the structure."

He hoped the trees could go on to provide shelter and contribute to the story of the site for many more years to come.

Ms Wills said having the trees cut back would allow safe access for an archaeological assessment and recommendations on the future of the building.

"What removing the tree means is we can actually get in and get a proper assessment of the building."

Archaeologist Peter Petchey was the monitoring archaeologist for the work.

He was amazed by the arborists’ skills.

“It was fantastic to see the Delta team carefully rappelling from trees.

"They were incredibly professional while doing challenging and dangerous work.”

Hereweka Harbour Cone Management Trust chairman Norcombe Barker said the arborists’ contribution was a great support to their programme of work.

"Given the number of historic sites on the property, the trust is working through an overall assessment to prioritising for restoration."

“Riddell’s Farm is a project we have been wanting to have assessed for along time.

"Tree work is expensive, and we are very appreciative of the work of the arborists."

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