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Author wants to home her ‘gummies’

Tania Atkinson-Connelly with some saplings grown from Greytown’s Eucalyptus Regnan. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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Over the Hill to Greytown by Tania Atkinson.

Tania Atkinson-Connelly loved the story about Samuel Oates wheelbarrowing gum saplings over the Remutakas in the mid-19th century so much that she wrote a children’s book about the journey, Over the Hill to Greytown.

Now she has succeeded in propagating a few trees from seeds of the famous Greytown gum tree – Eucalyptus Regnan. It stands on State Highway 2 and was listed as a notable tree and protected in the South Wairarapa District Plan.

But Atkinson-Connelly has a problem. The council don’t want to plant another of the trees anywhere and she can’t find a home for them in Wairarapa.

They grow very large, so where they are planted was important. Gums can also shed limbs which can be dangerous when they don’t have enough space around them.

Atkinson-Connelly unsuccessfully tried for many years to get the seeds to germinate. In 2018 once again she took the seeds she harvested out of the fridge, put them in the sun in spring and nothing happened. Another fail made her decide to end the mission and bin them. But when she went to do this, they had germinated. She calls them her “gummies”.

“Well it is a bit sad there is nowhere to plant the trees [in Wairarapa] yet as there is such a great story to how the giant eucalyptus got to be here and I think it is a beautiful tree,” Atkinson-Connelly said.

But one sapling was snapped up by Pumpkin Cottage Reserve in Upper Hutt and planted.

St Luke’s church is not keen on having another large gum tree on the church grounds.

The 36-metre-tall tree on the edge of the main road is 164 years old.

Last year three limbs shed off it, one of which smashed on to the footpath and damaged the church grounds stone wall.

The church committee is fundraising for steel reinforcing to hold the tree together in case it splits in half, right down the middle.

Atkinson-Connelly acknowledged a gum needed a large space around it and retains hope that a suitable spot in Wairarapa would be offered.

She intends to approach Carterton District Council to investigate whether they have a site for it.

The legendary gum tree story relates that Samuel Oates was commissioned by Charles Carter of Carterton to bring six Eucalyptus Regnan saplings to Carterton in 1856 destined for his property.

Oates brought them over the Remutaka Hill in a large wheelbarrow but stopped in at the Rising Sun tavern and all the saplings and the wheelbarrow were stolen.

In the process of the theft, however, one sapling fell out of the wheelbarrow and was eventually planted in the ground at St Luke’s Church in Greytown.

No one knows where the other five ended up.

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