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Dead wood cut but grove deadlock remains

Flagstaff Team

Arborists will perform work for safety purposes on one of the large pohutukawa in Takapuna’s Sacred Grove / Te Uru Tapu this week, although plans for the reserve’s long-term future remain unclear.

Four years on from the reserve being closed to the public and nearly seven months since the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board last called for access to the boardwalk through the grove to be restored, little seems to have been done scope out a reopening.

Auckland Council’s chief arborist, mana whenua and environmentalists favour keeping the fragile area closed permanently.

But the board – mindful of calls from residents for restored access – had hoped for negotiations towards a compromise.

This would have seen ground-level access remain closed, but a boardwalk restored, and signage installed to explain the area’s cultural significance.

A restored boardwalk would provide passage when high tides block the northern section of the beach.

But it is understood council staff have not progressed the board’s wish for talks since the resolution was passed last November.

The Observer asked the council for an update, but was told the project officer was on annual leave and further information would not be available before publication.

A council spokesperson said the need for safety work on the grove’s southernmost tree was identified during a recent inspection of the reserve by the council’s urban-forest team. Several large sections of dead wood would have to be removed.

“Two of the tree’s limbs are in slow decline and at the point where removal is necessary for public safety, as the limbs are overhanging the beach,” the spokesperson said.

A contractor was scheduled to complete the work on a low tide.

Other trees in the grove are stropped and propped, with some considered a safety risk. In 2021, a number were vandalised. Those responsible for poisoning and chopping them were not identified.

Public access to the grove has been restricted since 2018, initially for maintenance on the boardwalk, which was built around 20 years ago.

Reports and recommendations followed on the state of the trees, including advice that resource consents were unlikely to be granted to repair the boardwalk if moves were made to reopen the grove.

Consent is not needed for the tree trimming, which is a permitted activity under the Auckland Unitary Plan when done by a qualified arborist.

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