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Media release: Pohutukawa savers

Sunday 18 January 2015

Pohutukawa Savers to Attend Public Meeting

Pohutukawa Savers will be out in force at the SH16 St Lukes Interchange Upgrade community liaison meeting on Tuesday evening, 20th January, to highlight the imminent threat to six heritage pohutukawa opposite MOTAT, five of which are at least 80 years old.

A growing alliance of concerned residents from all walks of life and from across the region, the Pohutukawa Savers invite key decision-makers from Auckland Transport to front up and listen to community concerns. The meeting will be held at 6pm in the Western Springs Community Garden Hall – ironically, just down the road from the trees the group aims to save.

 Auckland Transport claims the trees must go to make space for its preferred intersection design that creates a second turning lane into St Lukes Road. The Pohutukawa Savers believe the trees can be retained via an improved design that also satisfies traffic requirements. They intend to vigorously appeal Auckland Transport’s decision to the Environment Court.

Pohutukawa Savers spokesperson Jolisa Gracewood says, “These grand old trees are a vital element of the area’s history and living heritage. They were planted in 1934 as part of a continuous avenue of pohutukawa along Great North Road, to beautify the newly created public greenspace as a gift to the citizens of Auckland. As such, they belong to all Aucklanders, and are located on open park land under the responsibility of the Waitematā Local Board.”

“These trees form a spectacular streetscape that welcomes visitors to the Western Springs parks precinct. Trees of this stature are crucial to the urban ecosystem, providing shade, air-filtering and stormwater dispersal, as well as a habitat for native birds. People all over Auckland, and beyond, are aghast at their proposed destruction. The spontaneous joy with which people have decorated the trees since hearing about their possible fate shows how valued they are.”

“Sacrificing these healthy, monumental trees would be a hasty, irreversible loss for little demonstrable gain. We know Auckland Transport has workable alternatives to this ‘either/or scenario’, and we believe that smart design can solve the traffic questions while preserving the historic and visual integrity of the space. We are asking Auckland Transport to recognise the value of these trees to Aucklanders of yesterday, today and tomorrow — and to help create a more liveable city by embracing a 21st century design that saves the trees.”

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 20 January at 6pm at the Western Springs Community Garden Hall, Great North Road. All who wish to support the trees are encouraged to attend.

Comment:

Jolisa Gracewood ph 027 513 5923

Christine Rose ph 021 056 3784

The Pohutukawa Savers are an alliance of residents, arborists, engineers, lawyers, and tree-lovers. They administer a Facebook page (2425 likes as of 18 January 2015) at www.facebook.com/savethepohutukawa6/, a Twitter account at @pohutukawa6 with 468 followers, and an online petition which has gathered 1912 signatures from across the country (as of 18 Jan 2015): https://www.change.org/p/auckland-transport-save-the-6-pohutukawa-trees-on-the-corner-of-st-lukes-rd-and-great-north-rd

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