Palm tree troubles costly
AN ART collection will have council funding rolled over for another year thanks to a protected palm tree.
Hillsborough’s Pah Homestead is the permanent home of the Sir James Wallace art collection.
Plans were in place to build an events facility there, looking out across Monte Cecelia Park.
But smack in the middle of the proposed site sits a protected phoenix palm tree – shattering the organisation’s hope of becoming financially self-sufficient.
The operational grant was set to run out at the end of the 2015 financial year but the council has ensured the $350,000 a year will continue.
Albert-Eden-Roskill councillor Christine Fletcher says the palm tree problem has turned into a ‘‘soap opera’’.
‘‘You are dealing with a heritage building and you are dealing with an art collection, those things aren’t cheap.’’
She says the trust has looked at putting the events centre elsewhere but it doesn’t do justice to the facility.
‘‘Anyone who has tried to book a wedding or big event in Auckland knows it’s hard to find a venue. There is clearly a gap in the market.’’
But Fletcher says she respects that it is a protected tree and that it is time to focus on finding a solution that works for all.
‘‘Even though I have a really good chainsaw in my garage,’’ she says. ‘‘It would be grossly unfair to deprive them of the funds.’’
Operations and relations manager Matthew Wood says the palm tree isn’t the only factor holding things up.
‘‘We are looking for a long term solution rather than something that is just a stop- gap measure. We are very enthusiastic about getting the best out of the site and the park for the community. It needs to work for everyone.’’
He says no time constraint is being placed on the organisation to become financially self-sufficient.
‘‘Money is very short. There is a huge amount of pressure on council budget at the moment,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s walking a fine line of what you would like to occur and what resources you have available.’’
The protected phoenix palm tree which has prevented the construction of an events facility at the Pah Homestead.