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Hit and run attack fells protected pohutukawa

25 January 2005

Hit and run attack fells protected pohutukawa

An 11 metre high protected pohutukawa tree was yesterday fatally damaged in a hit and run chainsaw attack on an Auckland suburban property, at 21 Mt Smart Road, Royal Oak.

The pohutakawa tree was notable for its size and beauty, with limbs over 2m in girth and a canopy spread of more than 20m. Annual growth rings on the cuts indicate that the tree is over 100 years old. The tree was scheduled in the City’s District Plan, preventing works within its dripline and all but very minor hand pruning.

“Loss of specimens like this is very difficult to compensate for, especially in an increasingly built-up urban environment”, says compliance monitoring team leader, Warren Adler.

Auckland City is investigating the incident. Two men were seen leaping from a car and chopping limbs from the tree with chainsaws at about 10.30am.

“We have a registration number believed to be that of the vehicle involved and are investigating, as well as speaking with the owner of the site,” says Warren Adler.

Council received an application to demolish buildings on the site last year. The application was put on hold due to the likelihood that it would require work within the dripline of the pohutakawa. Despite the stop, demolition went ahead leaving the site clear except for the tree.

Protecting significant native trees is a key role of Auckland City. Scheduling a tree not only protects the trunk and canopy of the tree, but also the root system. Trees are generally protected because of their contribution to the visual amenity of the city.

The penalty for a breach of the District Plan is up to $200,000 and 2 years imprisonment. Additional penalties are available for up to three times the value of any commercial gain derived from a breach.


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