135-year-old pines felled

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The two distinctive pine trees at St Luke’s Church, which were planted 135 years ago, were cut down yesterday after they became a safety concern.

The Norfolk Island pines were planted in 1878 to mark the death of Bishop Selwyn, New Zealand’s first bishop and in memory of his friend Bishop John Patteson, who was killed seven years earlier.

The felling was originally planned for mid-June but bad weather allowed the trees to stand for an extra two months.

St Luke’s committee chair and Vicar Reverend Tim Hurd said the decision to cut down the pine trees was not made lightly, but over the past years, there had been noticeable damage to the church’s porches, paths, drains, roof and stone work.

Rev Hurd said the damage to the church’s foundations was as yet unknown.

The trees had reached 25m high and were only about 2.5m away from the building.

In the arborist’s report, it stated that ”neither the selection of tree or their proximity to the church was appropriate”.

”We are mindful, post-Christchurch, of the issues around trees too close to buildings,” he said.

A resource consent was given last year by the Waitaki District Council and an arborist gave an opinion that the trees should be removed at the earliest opportunity.

Rev Hurd said the trees were also reaching the end of their life-span.

”The fact is, they have been planted too close to the building,” he said.

More than a decade ago, two yew trees were planted as replacements.

Rev Hurd said timber from the Norfolk pines would be used to create memorial furniture for the church and a plaque would also be mounted to the North Porch, depicting the pines and acknowledging their place in Oamaru’s history.

By Jessie Waite