The destroyed historical uprooted toa trees at the Matavera main road of Takitumu primary school this week. 21011234
Rain fell on Tuesday afternoon as the last of the beloved Matavera toa (ironwood) trees were felled, allowing government workers to proceed with roadworks in the area.
The magnificent historical toa (ironwood) trees in Matavera
are no more.
Chainsaws, diggers and trucks scattered across the school
field yesterday signalled the doom, destruction and the beginning of the end of
the loved toa trees.
The trees were planted by hand, digging into corralled rock
and sand in the early 1960s by Matavera School students, teachers and the
Truckloads and truckloads of the strong toa branches and
mulch were hurriedly taken away to homes in the village.
Member of Parliament for Matavera Vaitoti Tupa said the
people in the village were welcome to help themselves to the mulch and timber
of the toa trees.
However, some village residents were disappointed they were
not informed that they were permitted to take away branches and mulch to their
homes for their gardens.
For nearly 60 years the trees had served as shade for
children, sports teams, families and pedestrians and had remained standing
after cyclones and severe storms, serving as a wind protector for the schools
A public meeting to discuss the impact of roadworks on the
fate of the trees was called by Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) in August
The majority wanted the trees to be kept and for government
to look into a proposal put forward by Des Eggleton that would save most of the
Takitumu Primary School student Teaukura Manuela watches the toa trees being removed at the Matavera. 21011214
ICI director of planning and projects Sonny Williams had
informed the meeting (in August 2020) that landowners on the seaside of the
school strip were approached to allow more of their land to be used to widen
the road, but they had refused.
In December 2020 ICI updated a Matavera public meeting and notified
the attendees that the trees would be entirely removed.
The tree removals for the main road upgrade of Takitumu
Primary School started on Monday.
A concerned grandparent, whose children attend Takitumu
primary was devastated at governments decision to disregard the historical and
environmental value of the trees - that he called “sheer vandalism, and
recklessly destroying historical nature”.
In salutation to the Matavera toa trees, he wrote the
“Kia Orana tatou, sadly most of us have recently been
attending funerals of friends, relatives and loved ones, and have listened to
many eulogies telling stories of past performances and achievements. We have
nodded, laughed and cried.
“But today I want to write a special eulogy for another sad
occasion. One not about people, but rather about part of our island history.
Yes, those magnificent toa trees at Takitumu School, planted with much love so
many years ago, with a view to serving their community for generations and
indeed they have served very well, and would have continued to serve for many
years to come.
“Sadly, their end came prematurely.
“Men armed with machinery, diggers, chainsaws and trucks
swiftly and literally cut down in their prime of life, still young at about 60
years, and with many generations still to thrive, with so much more to give and
to offer. They were icons of their village.
“And a place of solace and comfort to all who sat and played
underneath, or just went slowly by, giving shade and comfort to thousands of
school kids over the years as well as thousands of sports men and women, boys
and girls who took their breaks from sporting activities to recover in the
shade of those magnificent trees.
The destroyed historical uprooted toa trees at the Matavera main road of Takitumu primary school. 21011234
“But sadly the vote went against them, and it was deemed
that they were in the path of progress and development…and they were
mercilessly removed, deemed by the Authorities to be a hindrance to safety.
“Perhaps progress is not always what it should be.
“Rest in peace… rest in pieces. Aere ra, e Kia Toa.”