Residents hang tough over tree branch

18:20, Oct 01 2012
PROMINENT: The pohutukawa limb in question hangs 1.2 metres above a footpath in Piha.

Residents fired up about what could be the most expensive tree branch in Auckland are being asked to hang in there for a decision on its fate.

The pohutukawa limb in question hangs 1.2 metres above a footpath in Piha leading to the surf club. To get around the tree pedestrians must climb over a knee-high wooden barrier which leads onto the road.

After a complaint about pedestrian safety 18 months ago Auckland Transport was called in to investigate.

So far $12,300 has been spent on the fate of the branch.

Auckland Transport has put forward two possible solutions - cut it off or build a walkway around the tree which would cost an additional $20,000.

The Waitakere Ranges Local Board met on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Chairwoman Denise Yates said it has attracted an amazing response from the community, both at the meeting and through emails on the subject.

''Through this we have been given suggestions that are quite good and can be explored.

''There were some people who thought we'd chickened out because we didn't make a decision but we need to make sure we get it right,'' she said.

''We weren't satisfied with cutting it down or putting in a walkway so we've asked Auckland Transport to go away and look at alternatives to bring back to us in November.''

Bobbie Carroll of the Beach Valley Road Project is one of the few residents advocating for the branch to go.

''Fifteen per cent of that tree will be removed and so all [the rest] will be left here,'' she said.

''It's not considered a notable specimen. It would not detract from the visual appeal. It would have less than a minor effect.''

But Waitakere ward councillor Sandra Coney said the tree makes the environment special and giving permission to chop this limb could open a can of worms for other trees.

''People have been safely walking along that walkway for the past 80 years,'' she said.

Megan Vertelle from Protect Piha Heritage suggested a trial period in which a simple sign was installed saying ''duck'' to warn people of the low hanging branch.

Declaring the area a shared space for cars and pedestrians or removing the wooden barrier so people could easily walk around the branch were also offered as cheap alternatives.

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