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Community journey for festive trees

Thursday 1 December, 2022

Sixty-eight wooden Christmas trees were rolled into the city centre and hand-delivered to our retailers today.

Now hundreds of children have a central city tree hunt on their hands to try and find the one their school decorated.

Twenty-seven schools took part in decorating the trees this year. Their trees will line our city streets for the next few weeks.

Ken Huberts, the Wooden Christmas Tree Project manager, says every year he is blown away by how clever and creative the designs are.

He takes photos of all 68 trees and then sends them to the schools as clues. This sparks a hunt through town, which increases foot traffic in our city centre.

Mr Huberts says it’s not hard getting city retailers to sign up and “adopt a tree”, which means having it on display outside their shop during business hours and wheeling it in at night.

The hands these wooden trees go through to completion is a real community journey that embodies the spirit of Christmas, he says.

Planks of wood are cut into Christmas tree shapes at Awapuni Joinery. This year the work was done by Boys’ High School students who learn how to use the computer cutting machine and get some practice on it at the same time.

Next, the cut-outs are sent to Corrections, where those fulfilling community service prime them with white paint.

The blank canvases are then delivered to the 27 pre-schools, primary schools and Intermediates across the region that signed up - from Wainui School to Te Karaka, with Rere School involved for the first time this year.

Teachers then collaborate with their students as the ideas come into play.

This year’s brief for decoration was simple – what Christmas means to you.

Mr Huberts and his helper-elf, neighbour Dave Conway, wear red vests that say ”Santa’s Helpers” as they pick up the decorated trees from the schools.

They drilled wheels onto the bottom of them before wheeling them all out to retailers by lunchtime today.

Mr Huberts has been behind the project for nine years. It was an idea he grew while the manager at Heart of Gisborne. He now contracts directly with Gisborne District Council for this festive part of the year and to increase vibrancy in our city centre.

Wooden Christmas trees