5 Jan 2018

Downed tree which killed woman had caused concern - council

5:17 pm on 5 January 2018

Police are investigating the death of a Rotorua woman after a large oak killed her when it fell on her car.

The tree on Arawa Street which came down in the storm, killing a woman in her car.

The tree on Arawa Street which came down in the storm, killing a woman in her car. Photo: Google Maps

The woman died after the 150-year-old tree came down about 10.45am at Arawa Street, near Amohia Street.

It had also crashed into a nearby building, but there were no other injuries.

It was one of several trees that came down in the town today, as the area is hit by the large summer storm that has been battering the North Island.

Rotorua Lakes Council acting chief executive Craig Tiriana said a local tree specialist raised concerns in recent months.

As a result, another inspection was done by the council's regular contractor and bracing was replaced and branches were cut several months ago.

Crews work to free a person trapped in a car in Rotorua when a tree fell on the vehicle

Emergency services at the scene after the tree fell. Photo: RNZ / Phil Pennington

Mr Tiriana said checking the oak was part of a notable trees inspections programme.

He said a February 2017 report recommended annual inspections and found no major issues with the tree, which was more than 150 years old.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said it was too early to speculate on the circumstances of the accident, but the council would cooperate with any investigation that takes place.

She said it was now a police matter and the council had handed over relevant files to police.

She said she had extended her condolences to the woman's family.

"This is an absolute tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with the family at this terrible time.

"Right now the focus needs to be supporting the family and wider community who have been affected by this tragedy, and council will do whatever it can to assist.

"This weather event has had an impact across much of the country and unfortunately it has left one Rotorua family dealing with a tragic loss - we can only support them at this time."

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