The first flourish of blazing red flowers is being noticed in Quay Street’s pōhutukawa, ushering in the first week of Auckland’s Alert Level 3, step 2.
If only the anthers could speak - these trees are no ordinary specimens. They have lived interesting lives.
Three years ago seven 40-year-old pōhutukawa were uplifted from Quay Street, keeping them safe from harm in Teal Park away from large-scale construction on the waterfront site.
During the trees’ ‘holiday’, the seawall was seismically re-engineered and rebuilt and five other significant projects were delivered by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport.
Te Ngau o Horotiu ferry terminal, Albert Street bus interchange, Galway Street shared space, Te Wānanga coastal shelf reaching out over the water, and the renewed waterfront boulevard took shape. They opened to the public in July this year.
Returning to the re-designed Quay Street one by one in crane operations managed by crews through the night to minimise disruption, residents from the neighbourhood would wake up each morning to see rain gardens and groves had been planted with yet another large pōhutukawa or puriri.
Some were mature trees and others were new nursery-grown trees.
Councillor Pippa Coom says the distinctive red flowers are a quintessential symbol of summer.
“I’m thrilled to see we have our first blooms after the investment we made in saving these trees and returning them to their home on the waterfront. After a tough lockdown I’m hoping Aucklanders are able to revisit our beautiful waterfront and sit under the shade of one of these majestic trees. A tūi might even join you,” she says.
Auckland Council Senior Advisor Urban Forest, Howell Davies, said: “These beautiful trees will continue to provide ongoing benefits of shade, support well-being, attract birds, and absorb carbon for many generations to come. That’s the beauty of trees.”
Quay Street residents and businesses will now witness the red flowers of a New Zealand summer adorn their street as Aucklanders return to the city.