Condemned tree causes row in Snells

The tree at the centre of a row in Snells Beach, between residents and a developer, is believed to have been planted by early settler James Snell, sometime in the mid-1800s.

Efforts by local residents and tree advocacy groups to save a historic 40-metre Norfolk Pine from being felled at Snells Beach were continuing last week

Pleas to Auckland Council to revisit its granting of resource consent have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Protestors were seeking legal advice about the possibility of seeking a judicial review in the High Court as Mahurangi Matters went to press, after Council insisted this was their only option.

Council’s northern resource consenting manager Ian Dobson says that at this time, Council does not believe that the application contained inaccuracies that were material to the decision to approve consent for the development.

“Only the holder of the resource consent is able to put the removal of the tree on hold, as the resource consent remains valid,” he says.

The tree is on land at the northern end of Snells Beach where groundwork for a 33-home development called Boathouse Bay is due to begin in October.

Developer Vavasour Investments wants to cut down the Norfolk Pine and replace it with a mature native pohutukawa, which it says will be more in keeping with the area. Development manager Mat Peters says the removal of the pine was “carefully considered by architects, iwi, an ecologist, and an historian contracted to research the history of the tree”.

However, local photographer Michele MacKenzie, who is leading the fight to save the tree, says the tree is a much-loved local landmark and its heritage and the habitat it provides for bird life means it should stay.

“It’s on land which is going to be a reserve anyway,” she says. “It’s 21-metres across, it’s like a bird Supercity, and lots of people have very happy memories of playing around that tree. I’m not an activist, I’ve never done anything like this in my life, but it’s wrong on so many levels, so we’ll do whatever we can.”

Groups that have supported the fight to save the pine include The Tree Council, Heritage Trees NZ and Heritage Tree Management in the UK.


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