Toa trees that were removed yesterday at a site next to Takitumu Primary School. The removal of the toa trees at the school is expected to start Tuesday. MELINA ETCHES/21011119
Work to remove the toa (ironwood) trees that have graced the road side of Matavera since the early 1960s started yesterday.
Resident Renall Vogel, who has been vocal against the
destruction of the toa trees, was devastated to see the trees being cut down.
Vogel was stunned and at a loss for words in the early
He said the advertisement Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI)
placed in Friday’s edition of Cook Islands News advising public of the tree removal
was not clear.
“ICI have manipulated the public with their advert that read
Main Road Upgrade Takitumu School, there is nothing about the trees, so they
are not being transparent,” Vogel said.
“It is a big project and intentionally they are not informing
the community properly, if they are not transparent, how do they deal with
“This is not what we want from government departments. We don’t want this kind of arrogant leadership, be transparent.”
Still disturbed by the removal of the trees, he hopes that
when the Takitumu School trees are removed, the tree timber is given to the
school to benefit from its sale.
Vogel’s father Papa William (Ve) Vogel agreed the toa trees
that were planted for the school must be given to the school who can use the
money from its sale. He said the timber should not be taken out of the village.
Vogel is asking parents to take their children to the school
area this morning (Tuesday) and to meet at the utu tree for a photo, “so it can
be recorded as part of the special history of Matavera before the trees are
Infrastructure Cook Islands held a public consultation in
December to present their final proposal for the Takitumu School main road
Last month, Secretary of Infrastructure Diane Charlie-Puna
confirmed the toa trees that are sitting within the road corridor would be
Toa trees that were removed yesterday at a site next to Takitumu Primary School. MELINA ETCHES/21011118
The proposal included the widening of the road to the “true
boundary of 10 metres legal road corridor”.
People in the community against the removal of the
well-known toa trees had wanted other options to be considered in an effort to
However, Charlie-Puna had said the majority understood the
importance of the removal of the trees that was explained by Infrastructure
representative Sonny Williams.
But some in the community including Vogel, the former
chairman of Takitumu School, were disappointed with government’s decision.
Infrastructure’s proposal in December said they would cater
to the community’s requests as best as they could without compromising the most
paramount factor – safety.
Charlie-Puna earlier said: “Safety is always the main driver
of any infrastructure design and consultation with the public will always be
the approach we take and not use the Infrastructure Act to push our agendas
through to our people.”