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Tree versus gravestone

MARNIE HALLAHAN
Last updated 08:00 27/11/2012
Trevarthen
STONEWALLED: Devonport residents are fighting to save William Trevarthen’s headstone more than 150 years after his death.

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The Auckland Council would rather see a 150-year-old gravestone moved than allow the oak tree that is damaging it to be cut down, St Paul's Cemetery campaigner Gail Lyons says.

The historic Devonport cemetery has been caught in controversy after it was put on the market along with the neighbouring St Paul's Presbyterian Church.

Devonport residents and descendants of those buried in the cemetery fought the sale, fearing they would lose visiting rights.

Now the council is questioning a resource consent application to remove a protected holm oak tree that is taking over the 150-year-old grave of William Trevarthen.

"The Trevarthens were an important founding family of Devonport. Since when are trees more important than our heritage," Ms Lyons says.

The Northern Presbytery, acting on behalf of the Church Property Trustees, engaged arborists to remove the tree which is severely damaging the Trevarthen grave and which will soon severely damage the headstone, says presbytery representative Stewart Milne.

But council resource consents arborist Gavin Donaldson has asked the trustees to investigate "any possible alternatives that you have considered, in particular the option of shifting the headstone and retaining the tree in its current position".

Mr Milne says they have considered moving the headstone but concluded that it is not an appropriate measure.

"It would then not be connected to the grave site and that is not considered to be acceptable," he says.

Mr Donaldson says the removal of the oak tree will expose a nearby grevillea tree to storm damage and would take away the screening and privacy for neighbouring properties.

However the owner of the neighbouring property at 100 Victoria Rd has agreed to the tree being cut down, Mr Milne says. The removal of the tree was also raised by the descendants of the Trevarthens at a public meeting held in August which was attended by 75 people, mainly Devonport residents, and there was no opposition, he says.

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