University mistakenly fells memorial tree

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 28/08/2014

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A tree planted in memory of a University of Canterbury history professor has been felled to make way for campus building repairs.

The University Council found the "very unfortunate event" resulted in the removal of a red beech memorialising distinguished history lecturer, Jim Gardner.

Chancellor John Wood said there seemed to be a "systemic black hole" in the area of memorials, with no central register kept, and no map or record of memorials or plaques.

"It appeared that the status and location of the tree was unknown and it had suffered damage in the remediation process and was subsequently removed to facilitate the building's reinstatement," council documents said.

A university spokesman said the tree was removed to allow for the repair of a lift shaft in the history building. "Although it became apparent after the tree had been removed that it had special meaning, I am advised the works required could not be completed without the tree being removed."

The university did not have a heritage trees register because the majority of the trees on campus considered significant were in the protected Ilam Heritage Gardens, the spokesman said.

It would work with Gardner's family, his former colleagues and the history department on options for reinstating the memorial.

The university council asked management to identify and register items of significance on both the Ilam and Dovedale campuses and to develop a draft memorials policy.

The policy is out for consultation and will be returned to the council .

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- The Press

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