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Greytown’s iconic giant gum tree out on a limb

Harry Newton, Jez Partridge and Milly Blackwell have teamed up to save the old gum tree below]. PHOTOS/KAREN COLTMAN

Rich history includes wheelbarrow, Remutaka Hill walk and beverages

KAREN COLTMAN
[email protected]

One hundred and sixty-four years old is middle-aged for a eucalyptus so a $10,000 limb operation is well worth it, according to arborist Jez Partridge and supporters of Greytown’s towering, old gum tree.

Partridge advised the Greytown St Luke’s parish that because the huge tree is twin stemmed, it is vulnerable to splitting in the middle and the two main limbs need pulling together.

“A single stemmed tree can move around a bit with its supporting roots but this one could pull apart at the centre because the bark sitting in between the two stems is fused together, but not strong,” Partridge said.

Standing a towering 36 metres high and being next to a busy main road and footpath, means for safety it needs to be strengthened.

Last year three limbs fell off it and one six metres long landed on the church’s stone wall before crashing on to the footpath.

Business leaders and the church community decided it was time to get it assessed. The cost to secure the tree is $10,626.

The limb strengthening job requires four large bolts to be drilled into the tree from the outside of each main stem at 10 metres up and 14 metres up from the base.

Then two steel cables would be hooked to each end of the bolts inside the V-shape between the two limbs.

The cable would be pulled tight to hold the two stems closer together.

The tree is a notable tree in the South Wairarapa District Plan and protected.

There is some mythology around the planting of it around 160 years ago, which has added to its intrigue and fame.

Samuel Oates was commissioned by Charles Carter 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 made to carry tools and goods. But the story goes that when Oates stopped for a beverage at the Rising Sun tavern, the saplings were stolen.

One of these saplings ended up going into the ground where St Luke’s church is.

Millie Blackwell of Showcase Workshop has already fundraised $1600 by selling her hand-made sock monkeys through the Showcase Workshop store and online.

The Greytown Community Board facilitated a council grant of $2000 last year.

But the group need to get to the $5000 mark before any work can start. Blackwell is running a Fabric-a-Brac table on March 28 to raise more money and running a raffle from her store.

Donations can be made to the ‘givealittle’ page: http://givealittle.co.nz/cause/greytown-gum-tree

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