Picton's $9500 trees hailed as good buy

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 06:39 09/01/2013
Christmas tree
Jared Nicoll
Day star: The sun beams down on one of the Christmas trees in Picton, where council staff were forced to remove the decorative stars because of wind damage

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Would you pay $9500 for a three-metre-tall artificial Christmas tree?

The Marlborough District Council bought two of them from a company in China, paying almost $20,000 from its Christmas decoration budget last year to have the trees imported and set up on High St in Picton from mid-December until January 14.

The trees are expected to last each Christmas for the next seven to 10 years, while the decorative lights and blue and silver baubles should last about four years.

Council reserves and amenities officer Robert Hutchinson said the trees had largely survived the holiday period and only a few decorations had gone missing.

When the trees were first set up on High St, some Picton residents predicted the trees would not last one weekend.

Council staff were forced to remove the shiny silver stars from the top of the trees after strong winds damaged the screws holding them to the tree frame.

"We lost one or two baubles but that was about it," Mr Hutchinson said.

"We had to take away the stars because they were coming loose."

Some people might think they could get a better price for a similar product at a wide-range budget store, but cheaper trees were uneconomical in the long-run, Mr Hutchinson said.

The trees were installed in response to complaints from Picton residents about a lack of festive cheer along the town's main street during the holiday season.

The trees were put up a little later than hoped because some of the boxes containing the branches went missing in transit from China, he said.

"These ones have longevity and good ones aren't cheap. The council has a budget for Christmas decorations and these came out of that," he said.

"They're a new design and they'll appear in towns around the country next year as an alternative to wire and string decorations - they're easy to maintain and store.

"I'd say they've been very successful. We tried flashing lights on stands and this was the next step.

"The poles on High St are heavily laden with banners and lights - the street's too wide to hang anything across - so we needed them to be free-standing. The light from shops and cafes is quite strong so it's quite bright down there, which is good to show off the trees."

The council had also investigated putting up lights on the trees at Nelson Square but this would have cost about $87,000, which would have blown the budget, Mr Hutchinson said.

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"All the way from China with decorations and everything, the trees are a good price really."

- The Marlborough Express

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