12 February 2018
Rotorua Lakes Council has released information regarding the Arawa Oak which came down during a storm that affected the district in the first week of the new year.
Local Trish Butterworth tragically died when the tree came down on her vehicle and police are conducting an inquiry on behalf of the Coroner.
“This has been a real tragedy for our community and we again extend our condolences to the family of Trish Butterworth,” Rotorua Lakes Council Chief Executive Geoff Williams says.
“Council has been in contact with the family and staff have spoken to and met with several members of the family. We have taken them through information relating to the tree which has also been made available to the police. We felt it was important that they had the opportunity to view and understand the information prior to its public release.
“We understand there is huge public interest in this matter so having now provided the relevant information to the family and police, we are able to release it to the public,” Mr Williams says.
“The information shows a history of the tree including active management and maintenance undertaken by Council and its contractors, based on advice from experts.”
Council fielded several requests from media for information about the tree immediately following the incident. Council was at the time compiling documents and information for the police investigation and did not believe it appropriate to supply these to the media before providing it to the police and the family.
Council is now able to release documents and information relating to the Arawa Oak, as follows:
Minutes of a 1991 Council resolution regarding acquisition of the Arawa Oak and reports from between 2000 and 2002 relating to the tree including assessments and work carried out during that time.
A 2002 report on the tree by a consulting arborist which noted that while it had been observed by council staff that the tree was not looking as vigorous as in other years, this was not considered to be a sign of accelerating terminal decline. It concluded the tree appeared to be in a healthy enough state to live for several more decades. The report also included recommended steps to minimise hazards and keep it in continued health.
Copies of internal and public requests (2010 to 2016) for work to be carried out on and around the tree.
Information about the maintenance programme for the Arawa Oak and other council trees.
Requirements for contractors to carry out annual inspections of each “notable” tree “to confirm the health of the tree, location, authorised works, factors that may influence the future health of the tree and recommendations for work to be carried out on the tree”.
A February 2017 assessment report from a contracted arborist which found no areas of major concern, recommended ongoing monitoring of the oak due to some noted decline in crown foliage and concluded that the assessed risk of harm from the oak was “low to very low and falls into the Tolerable category".
Detail regarding renewal of bracing and weight reduction pruning which was undertaken late last year following an inspection in September 2017 by contracted arborists. This was an additional inspection prompted by a conversation with a local arborist who was undertaking work for Council in the Tokorangi forest area. The arborist noted that one of the bracing cables on the Arawa Oak was giving way and installation of temporary bracing was immediately arranged, followed by contracting of arborists to install permanent braces and undertake some weight reduction work.
Click on THIS LINK to view the documents and information described above.