28 Feb 2013

Chatham Islanders fight to keep ancestral trees alive

6:32 am on 28 February 2013

Chatham Islanders and the Department of Conservation are working hard to preserve the last few remaining trees with ancestral Moriori carvings before they start deteriorating any further.

Ten momori trees (rakau) - which are about 400 years old - had to be removed last weekend because they were either rotting or were being harmed.

Hokotehi Moriori Trust general manager Maui Solomon said there are at least another 50 trees that will need to have preservation treatment over the next five years.

He said work is progressing to save as many as possible using a range of methods including fertilising around the base of the trees, erecting viewing platforms, and putting up wind barriers.

Mr Solomon said it was a sad occasion to have to remove the trees, which are important to the Moriori people because the carvings depict images of their ancestors.

So far, 18 trees have been taken away from the Hapupu National Historic Reserve and put into storage at Te Kopinga Marae for conservation treatment.