Memorial Trees Die After Leith Construction Work

ORC Apologises to University

The Otago Regional Council has apologised after accidentally allowing two memorial trees, planted for members of staff who have passed away, to die after removing them as part of their Leith Flood Protection work.

The ORC got permission from the University to remove five trees, including the two memorial trees, under the condition that they be replanted in another location. The ORC gave the trees to a nursery to look after. Unfortunately, it turns out that ripping old trees out of the ground often results in their death.  

One of the memorial trees was a kauri dedicated to poet Charles Brasch, which was planted in 1976, and the other was a mountain beech planted in 2004 for Dr Robin Law of the Geography Department.

Sarah Gardner, ORC Chief Executive, said “The ORC has sincerely apologised for this unintended situation. We are currently working with University staff and former colleagues of those whose trees have died to determine a respectful remedy for this situation”.

“As a result of these ongoing discussions, the trees (of the same size and species) will be replaced and an offer has been made to potentially make something out of the wood of the original trees, if desired. It is extremely unfortunate that this has occurred and we are committed to assisting the University of Otago create a contemplative memorial garden, that sits beside the Leith, that can be enjoyed by all members of staff and students for years to come.”

The University’s Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis said “We treasure our memorial trees – we want to emphasise the importance of them to our University, families and colleagues – so we are working with the Otago Regional Council to ensure this is resolved in an appropriate and sensitive way.”

This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2018.
Posted 10:01pm Thursday 27th September 2018 by Charlie O’Mannin.