Don’t forget your roots

Developers are often presented with a lot of challenges when they start preparing landscapes to create new communities. Ecological and environmental impact takes the front seat when developing land and Classic Developments evaluate the potential impact on any existing residents be it wildlife, flora or fauna before creating a community for humans.

Hunua Views is a great case in point and demonstrates the measures in place to ensure compliance with protective legislation and planning policy, but more importantly to minimise any impact on the landscape along with anything living within it.

A special forest

One of the stunning features surrounding Hunua Views is the beautiful Winsford Gardens, a sprawling estate often used as an event venue for weddings. Within these gardens resides a very special grove of 200 Totara trees with a history dating back over 100 years. The tree grove sits on a 10-acre block and was gifted as a token of thanks to people returning from WW1.

Over the years, as the land surrounding the trees has been developed, they stood strong and their roots grew, running deep and wide throughout the surrounding land. When Classic undertook an environmental survey, it became apparent that the roots ran into the boundaries of the development. An arborist was consulted and a creative and caring approach to preserving the historical trees was implemented.


The first concession was offsetting the retaining walls adjacent to one side of Winsford Gardens by 7 metres. The properties along this perimeter have since been built by Classic Builders, who took the landmarks into consideration providing a stunning backdrop for the new homeowners.

Along the other side of the Gardens, a three-metre wide shared-use pathway runs from Hunua Views through to the nearby Ramarama school. This modern take on a country laneway took over a year of planning and consideration to create a solution that allowed residents safe and picturesque passage to school while protecting the special Totara trees.

Engineers found a way to ‘float’ a footpath using polystyrene. The material allows enough tension to support pedestrian weight while being flexible enough to allow the tree roots to push through and expand. Along with a special joint system the path will allow for continued growth while creating a safe and stable pathway for locals to enjoy.

Senior Project Manager for Classic Developments, Craig Atherstone oversaw the project and was delighted to find a solution to a very specific challenge ‘It’s meant the pathway can continue under the dripline of the trees, creating a safe alternative for kids to walk or bike to school and avoid the main roads. But also, the trees represent a unique, historic aspect to the area, which now the wider community can enjoy, and generations to come’ Atherstone said.

Looking after important neighbours

The scenic Hingia stream forms part of the Hunua Views landscape and is home to hundreds of native eels. Upon completion of the first block of earthworks, the stream was diverted to accommodate the construction of the homes. This required an ecological impact review undertaken by Boffa Miskell, a leading New Zealand environmental planning and design consultancy. The review included observing how the proposed changes would impact all wildlife, predominantly focusing on eels, bats, birds and lizards.

The review concluded that the mitigation action required included rehoming over 200 eels downstream. Eels being somewhat slippery by nature were tricky to move but under the guidance of specialist ecologists were safely captured and released into their new habitat. This involved a series of nets and the creation of a new stream location re-joining with the existing stream further along the land.

In addition to this effort over 50,000 new trees and plants have recently been planted along the edge of the new stream, providing homes and habitats for birdlife and a natural environment for other creatures to enjoy, including the humans living in this very considered and curated development.

Classic Group cites Caring as one of the core values within the organisation and this approach to the ngā kararehe o te whenua is evidence of the values in action.