Gum trees set to be felled in Flaxmere next week to make way for a housing development will be distributed as firewood to the local community, Hastings District Council has announced.
The site on Caernarvon Drive, next to the Flaxmere College sports grounds, is one of three areas identified for the development on Council-owned land.
The other two sites are at 244 Flaxmere Ave, where groundworks have already begun, and at the Flaxmere Town Centre behind the village shops.
Site clearance works for the redevelopment of the town centre, supermarket and housing will begin next week, starting with the trees being removed from the work-site opposite the Flaxmere Pool and Community Centre.
The developments are expected to deliver upwards of 150 affordable, well-designed new homes that will start being built at the end of this year.
The gum trees are being removed from Caernarvon Drive both to make space, and also in response to the dangers they pose from falling limbs. The new subdivision will be replanted with native species.
In the meantime, some of the felled trees will be donated to Te Aranga Marae, and about 130 tonnes will go to Tihei Mauri Ora, with both organisations redistributing them as firewood for members of the Flaxmere community.
Flaxmere councillor and Hastings ambassador, Henare O’Keefe said it was important that the community got the benefit of the trees that were coming down.
“These trees are being felled for the betterment of our community with the new housing that they will make way for, but we didn’t want to see them to go to waste and know that they will be greatly appreciated as firewood for those that need it,” he said.
“The gum trees have been a landmark in our Flaxmere for decades – it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know they will now provide warmth for many of our whānau throughout the cold winter months, and the magpies that have made them home won’t be dive-bombing people anymore!”
Tihei Mauri Ora co-ordinator and PHO Group GM Māori Health, Henry Heke said that during the first COVID lockdown in 2020, the Emergency Response Centre redistributed wood to whānau that was donated through the Post-Treaty Settlement Groups, namely Heretaunga Tamatea Settlement Trust and Mana Ahuriri Settlement Trust, through an agreement with wood providers Pan Pac Forest Products Limited, Rayonier Matariki Forests and Gwavas/Kaweka Forest.
“This wood that we are receiving this year will be processed by volunteers again at Showgrounds Tomoana Hawke’s Bay and the aim is to mix it with pine and have it available for Flaxmere whānau next winter,” he said.