11 Nov 2011

Council says it regrets felling sacred Rotorua tree

7:30 pm on 11 November 2011

The Rotorua District Council says while it regrets chopping down a sacred mangeao tree, it has triggered better relations with tangata whenua.

The native tree called Te Pou a Taranui which stood on the side of State Highway 33 near Okere Falls on the outskirts of Rotorua was cut down without local iwi knowing.

It was named after the Ngati Pikiao chief Taranui, who chose it more than a century ago as a resting spot for travelling parties escorting a tupapaku or deceased person.

The council says it wasn't listed as a heritage or protected site, and was felled because it was a roadside hazard.

Highway and road safety manager Kevin Thompson says the situation has resulted in talks with hapu of Ngati Pikiao, to discuss how to avoid a similar problem.

A Taranui descendant says the tree wasn't recognised as a sacred site partly because of concerns about vandalism.