Over the past three months, the new Tree Cathedral site beside the Hihiroroa road has been transformed from a scruffy rush infested paddock to an immaculate smooth grass carpet, leveled and raised in the form of a cross.
The dimensions of the raised cross are the same as those of Westminster Abbey in London; 170m X 70m. The surrounding ground beyond the cross has also been smoothed and sloped to assist with drainage, and sown in grass.
Work on the site began after Christmas when Tom Stone and his gang spent several days felling and clearing some massive poplars as well as many other trees and weed species that had taken over the stream banks. Once this was completed, Kerry Teutenburg and his team started on the ground work. The site had been surveyed and levels established so Kerry, using diggers, trucks and a dozer made the most of the fine weather, creating the design work as drawn up by Thomas Woltz and his team of landscape architects in the States.
The ground work was completed and grass seed sown just before cyclone Pam headed in our direction so there were some anxious moments when we heard the forecast. At one stage it seemed we could possibly expect rainfall similar to that in cyclone Bola, 200 ml. in 24 hours! This could have caused serious damage to the recently worked ground but fortunately Eastwoodhill received only about 75ml of warm gentle rain which was perfect for grass establishment.
The trees have been ordered, Sequoia sempervirens, Coastal redwood, which will form the main aisle and Tilia platyphylos, Linden or large leaf lime, which will form a deciduous wall beyond the redwoods. Other species will be used to provide seasonal colour to key areas such as the two small chapels on either side beyond the cross. These trees will be planted during the coming winter and fenced off from the rest of the site to enable sheep to be grazed whilst the trees grow to a safe height. This could well take five or more years. It is hoped that within ten years ceremonies can be held in some of the Cathedral spaces. By this time the site will be linked to the walking track network by bridges across the stream at either end of the Cathedral.