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Locals 'angry and sad' as Wanaka's iconic willow tree damaged by vandal

Wanaka's iconic willow tree has had some of its world famous branches hacked off in an attack by a vandal.

Branches cut off famous Wanaka tree. Source: Luisa Apanui Photography

A local photographer was shocked to see branches lying in the water when she went to do a photoshoot on Lake Wanaka's waterfront yesterday.

"First, I thought maybe someone tried to climb it and they broke off," Luisa Apanui told 1 NEWS.

"However, this morning I went back to the lakefront to check it out and the branches were on the shore, and the clean cuts (from a chain or hand saw) were clearly visible.

"I talked to other locals at the tree too, and we were all upset and angry."

Wanaka tree Source: Luisa Apanui Photography

Ms Apanui is sad the tree, which had survived recent flooding, had been damaged by human hands.

"I’m incredibly angry that someone damaged the unique Wanaka icon on purpose! Someone wanted to destroy it’s beauty for all of us and that makes me very sad.

"It’s so ignorant and selfish and we have enough problems in our community right now with the virus."

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One of our most photographed natural wonders is surprisingly a droopy looking tree in Wanaka. Source: Seven Sharp

She believes someone must have vandalised the tree overnight on Monday as it's always busy with tourists during the day.

"I have no idea why someone would do this. It could have been anyone - people from out of town or locals. Not everybody loves the attention that the tree gets, especially in summer.

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Wanaka's much-loved willow tree is starting to get damaged by all the attention from tourists. Source: 1 NEWS

"For me it’s the most peaceful thing ever, watching the sunrise by the Wanaka willow and I’m glad he is still there and will hopefully grow in the future!

"But It would be great to know the full story one day," Ms Apanui said.