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The Domain macrocarpas

Posted by SC Comments Off on The Domain macrocarpas

 

These two old macrocarpa are the survivors of the original three planted by the Cowans in the 1870s

There was consternation when Waitakere City Council announced it was about to fell one of the two remaining – of an original three – macrocarpas near the Bowling Club, on the grounds that it was diseased.

On questioning it seems that Waitakere City Council had overlooked that the trees are on its District Plan Schedule. There are only three trees on the schedules at Piha: A kauri on the parkland beyond Pendrell Road reserve, the pohutukawa on the rock at 23 Piha Road, and the two macrocarpa in the Domain.

Normally, to fell a scheduled tree requires a resource consent, probably notified, and a proper evaluation and reports, including options on how to salvage the tree if possible.

Once it was pointed out to WCC that the trees were scheduled, it is now seeking further arborists’ reports and Protect Piha Heritage are keeping an eye on it. However, it is a worry that the Council did not consult its own schedules. A similar situation arose with the Council planned a new playground and proposed to put it within the area of the trees. This had to be pointed out by local people.

The trees are usually described as having been planted by “Pa” Bethell when he lived at Piha in the mid-1890s. However, there is no reliable source for this claim.

Early photos, around  the turn-of-the-century, show quite a large tree in the Domain, much bigger than a tree could have reached in five years. In fact, the tree was in all likelihood planted by the Cowan and Ness families when they came down from above the Kitekite Falls and lived on the flat at Piha around 1876 . There are a number of reasons for thinking this.

  • Early photos show a macrocarpa that is bigger than if it had been planted in 1895
  • A photo take in May 1934 shows Peter Ness beside a large macrocarpa which he says stood in front of the house where he was born in 1876.
  • In his manuscripts, historian JT Diamond says the trees were planted by the Cowans. Diamond interviewed members of both the Ness and Cowan families.

This would make the Domain macrocarpa the venerable age of 133 years!

Categories: landmarks, The past

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