The mystery Eketahuna lumberjack who cut off the branches of an iconic tree along the Cliff Walk path has been found.

An investigation into who removed three of the 100-year-old tree’s low hanging branches has found that a Tararua District Council contractor was responsible.

The contractor, employed to move the fence line further back from the eroding cliff edge, identified the branches as a hazard after an elderly man walked into them and hit his head.

Without the council’s authorisation he removed the offending offshoots.

Council asset manager Colin Veal said, “it was a bit unfortunate”.

Resident Denise Clifton, who first reported the tree’s missing limbs, said she was just relieved that the man who walked into the tree was not seriously injured.

“I was told he was very upset that the branch was cut off because of him.”

She said it had caused a bit of sadness, but “what can you do”.

“[The fence worker] obviously felt he was doing the right thing but in hindsight he probably wasn’t.”

The historic tree stands near the entrance to Cliff Walk which was founded in 1911 to commemorate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary.