Man dies be­fore see­ing tree plan through

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHLOE RANFORD

A man who was plan­ning a ‘‘big event’’ for the re­moval of his fam­ily’s 138-year-old tree has died two weeks be­fore it was felled.

Cat­tle and vine­yard farmer Bryan Dod­son died peace­fully at Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal on Thurs­day last week af­ter a de­cline in health ear­lier this year.

The 66-year-old had hoped to see through the re­moval of a her­itage eu­ca­lyp­tus tree which has sat on the Dod­son’s Sand­hills Es­tate prop­erty near State High­way 1 in Spring Creek for seven gen­er­a­tions.

Sarah Wright, Dod­son’s daugh­ter, said the tree was first planted in about 1880 as a road guide for sur­vey­ors plac­ing marker pegs, or bound­ary points, around the Marl­bor­ough re­gion.

She said it had since be­come a mem­o­rable spot in the Spring Creek area, as ‘‘ev­ery­one knew the old gum tree’’, and it was vis­i­ble for quite a dis­tance.

Wright, who grew up on the Sand­hills Es­tate home­stead, said the 38-me­tre-high manna gum tree was also a strong re­minder of home.

‘‘For Dad, its re­moval would have been quite a his­toric event,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s linked to the farm, it’s al­ways been there.’’

The book Old Marl­bor­ough, pub­lished by Thomas Lind­say Buick in 1900, said Dod­son’s great-great-grand­fa­ther Ge­orge Dod­son was the first farmer in Spring Creek.

Wright said that had her fa­ther lived, he would have in­vited over friends to watch the tree be felled, or stood in one of the pad­docks for a nicer view.

Dod­son’s wife Kathryn said he was hop­ing to turn it into a ‘‘big event’’.

‘‘He didn’t want the tree down ... but he knew it had to come down as it had died,’’ she said.

‘‘It would be nice if it had of sur­vived, but there was not a lot of green left.’’

New Zealand Trans­port Agency (NZTA) top of the south sys­tem man­ager Frank Porter said the tree had shown a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant de­cline’’ in health in re­cent times and had de­te­ri­o­rated at a rapid rate.

It was sched­uled to be felled next week to pre­vent it from fall­ing onto the nearby high­way or foot­path and en­dan­ger­ing lives.

‘‘The demise and loss of such an iconic land­mark of Marl­bor­ough’s his­tory is re­gret­table, but the safety of road users is a pri­or­ity,’’ Porter said.

Felling the tree would re­quire a ‘‘full road clo­sure’’ and cause a ‘‘sub­stan­tial de­tour’’ in both di­rec­tions around the streets of Blen­heim on Novem­ber 14.

Dur­ing work, there would be a clearly marked de­tour for light ve­hi­cles, and a sep­a­rate marked de­tour for heavy ve­hi­cles and freight trav­el­ling un­der per­mits.

Wright said once the tree was felled, fam­ily mem­bers would con­sider mak­ing an item out of the tim­ber to com­mem­o­rate Dod­son, pro­vided it was in good con­di­tion.

‘‘We could carve some­thing into the left­over stump, de­pend­ing on when or if we’re al­lowed,’’ she said.

‘‘But if we can’t, we might make a piece of fur­ni­ture.’’

A fu­neral ser­vice was held for Dod­son at the Ukaipo Ran­gi­tane Cul­tural Cen­tre, in Grove­town, on Wed­nes­day.

Prepa­ra­tions for the tree felling would take place next week on Novem­ber 13.

Marl­bor­ough Her­itage Trust ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Steve Austin said while he was a great lover of old trees, peo­ple needed to ac­cept there were ‘‘se­ri­ous dan­gers’’ when they be­come a haz­ard.

He hoped the site would be marked by an in­for­ma­tion plaque in the fu­ture to in­form peo­ple of its his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

The Marl­bor­ough Re­gional Pol­icy State­ment re­quired trees with ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant cul­tural or her­itage value’’ to be re­tained for the con­tin­ued ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity.

More than 210 trees in the Marl­bor­ough re­gion were listed as ‘her­itage’ un­der the state­ment.

A Marl­bor­ough Dis­trict Coun­cil spokesman said a her­itage tree could be re­moved if the owner ap­plied for a re­source con­sent.

RICKY WIL­SON/STUFF

The 38-me­ter-high tree was planted in about 1880 as a road guide for sur­vey­ors.

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