New plants in east frame al­ready dy­ing

The Press - - News - Liz McDon­ald liz.mcdon­ald@stuff.co.nz

New plants in a cen­tral Christchurch park are dy­ing and have to be re­placed.

The $30 mil­lion tax­payer­funded Rauora Park opened in the city’s east frame in De­cem­ber with 14,000 plants, in­clud­ing 312 trees. A large num­ber are now dead or dy­ing.

Crown re­build com­pany O¯ ta¯karo says some deaths were in­evitable but plant ex­perts say the work was poorly planned and done with no re­spect for the plants.

The dead plants in­clude lance­wood trees and hebe shrubs.

Land­scape ar­chi­tect Di Lu­cas said the pro­cesses fol­lowed had cre­ated ‘‘a ma­jor is­sue’’. Plants were in some cases not suited to their lo­ca­tion and there was no ir­ri­ga­tion, lead­ing to the deaths, she said.

‘‘There was some re­ally good ini­tial de­sign and then sadly the ex­e­cu­tion was dumbed down through Gov­ern­ment pro­cesses,’’ she said. ‘‘Some of it has been un­be­liev­ably stupid.’’

Paul Michael, who owns spe­cialised nurs­ery Fern Fac­tor, said some poor de­ci­sions about what, when and how to plant were made by ‘‘bean coun­ters who know noth­ing about plants’’.

Some of the work was rushed, rather than hav­ing the right plants grown to or­der and put into prop­erly pre­pared and ir­ri­gated sites at the right time of year, he said.

‘‘It’s like they are buy­ing a lump of con­crete or some­thing off the shelf. But they’re not. These are liv­ing, breath­ing plants.

‘‘They put the plants in the ground like a box-tick­ing ex­er­cise. It’s penny pinch­ing. Now they have to re­plant and it’s false econ­omy.

An O¯ ta¯ karo spokesman said the deaths in Rauora Park were ex­pected be­cause of the large num­ber of new plants. Some had died and oth­ers had been van­dalised, he said.

‘‘As it is now the plant­ing sea­son, the con­trac­tor will be­gin re­plac­ing these plants later this month.’’

The re­place­ment plant­ing work was paid for as part of con­trac­tor City Care’s con­struc­tion con­tract with O¯ ta¯ karo, he said.

A City Care spokesman said they were start­ing to re­place the af­fected plants now but de­clined to com­ment on how or why the prob­lems hap­pened.

JOHN KIRKANDERSON/STUFF

Dead and dy­ing hebes and lance­wood in Rauora Park, which is part of cen­tral Christchurch’s new east frame.

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