Among the scrub being cleared along State Highway 20B for the State Highway 20B Early Improvements project stood three ‘New Zealand’s Christmas trees’.
Fulton Hogan’s Zone Manager on the project, Tim Toomey, says he was reconciling himself to the 30-year-old pohutakawas meeting their fate at the teeth of a chainsaw when it was discovered a neighbouring business, Trees of Distinction, specialised in saving large trees.
“We gave them a safety plan, dug around to check there were no utilities and left them to it. After a week of careful excavation, they were out,” Tim says.
“It was great that they were saved – it really was a win for everyone. Most of all, the trees.”
Jon Steele of Trees of Distinction at Black Bridge Nurseries says the Pohutukawa – weighing around 10 tonnes each and with a span of around eight metres – will be re-homed and “left to sit quietly for 18 months to recover and root ball up nicely”.
And what will they eventually cost their new owners?
“Let’s just say if you wanted the trees and a Porsche to go with your new house, then you probably couldn’t afford both,” Jon says.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Auckland International Airport Limited are working together to improve State Highway 20B with a new shared path for more travel choice and additional priority lanes between Pukaki Creek Bridge and State Highway 20.