News round-up from Cornwallis

Fire damaged pohutukawa at Cornwallis Beach

Fire damaged tree safe from felling

A historic pōhutukawa tree near Cornwallis Wharf was badly damaged in an early morning fire on 5 July. 

Thankfully however, Auckland Council arborists say although there is substantial damage to the tree, its root system is intact and there is no current plan to fell it.

"Our arborists have now inspected the tree and although there is some significant damage, the structural integrity is unchanged at present," says a council spokespoerson.

Fire damaged pohutukawa at Cornwallis Beach"Some cutting of aerial roots was required to allow access for the fire hose to extinguish the fire within the cavity on the tree."

Council arborists plan to monitor the ongoing health of the pōhutukawa and whether it becomes dangerous to the public.

The fire took several hours to put out as the blaze had spread to deep within the trunk of the tree.

It was put out by Huia and Laingholm volunteer brigades and involved pumping seawater from the nearby Manukau Harbour.

The fire has been deemed suspicious by Fire and Emergency Services, but there is no word yet on possible culprits.

A recently lit cooking fire was found just metres from the tree.

Orca sighted in Manukau Harbour

Orca in Manukau Harbour May 2020

A small pod of orca made repeated visits to the Manukau Harbour in late May 2020, and were spotted numerous times off Cornwallis Beach (pictured above).

The sightings occurred on Tuesday May 19, Thursday May 21 and again on Tuesday May 26.

The photos above were taken on May 21. In the image on the left, you can see Puponga Point, with the southern end of the Karangahape Peninsula (Cornwallis) in the top right, with the Waitakere Ranges in the background. In the left image, two orca are rounding Puponga Point, heading back out towards Manukau Heads.

Responding to the images on Twitter, the Marine Mammal Ecology Group at the University of Auckland said it was not unusual to see orca enter the Manukau Harbour as they travel around the New Zealand coastline. The Project Jonah Twitter account labelled the images, "Stunning".

In an article on the news website Stuff, Cornwallis resident Bronwyn Turner says seeing the group was the “thrill of a lifetime”.

“It's just so wonderful to see them, they are the most magnificent creatures.”

With so little rain in the Auckland region during autumn, it also means there was little run-off into the harbour, meaning it was cleaner than usual. This may be an attraction to the large mammals. The lack of pleasure craft on the water during a clear, midweek day may also have been a factor.

Wharf structural work complete

Cornwallis Wharf with Denso tape on piles

Work to wrap Cornwallis Wharf's wooden support piles in a strengthening tape has now been completed.
Each wooden support was wrapped in industrial Denso tape - which can be applied underwater to give greater protection to the aging wood.
Much of the work was done by divers - as shown in this demonstratoin video.

Further structural work will eventually see the reinstatement of the boat platforms at the far end of the pier.
The work is funded by Auckland Council and carried out by STG Group – specialists in marine construction and maintenance.

It started in March and then paused for five weeks during the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown period.

Cornwallis Beach Tweets