Three mature protected pōhutukawa trees on the Arkles Bay foreshore are the subject of an investigation by Auckland Council, which suspects they have been deliberately poisoned.
The poor health of the trees was discovered by Council during a routine inspection on October 5.
Council’s head of operational management and maintenance, Agnes McCormack, says the arborist discovered that there were several drill holes in the tree trunks that had been filled with brown putty.
Currently, the trees are being monitored with the hope that they will recover.
Council is erecting fencing around the trees and applying mulch in efforts to help the recovery process.
Signs are also being erected to notify the public of the poisoning to seek further information for the council’s compliance team.
Residents already aware of the poisoning have taken to social media, angrily calling the suspected poisoning “a horrible act of vandalism”.
A common theme of the comments was the suspicion that they had been poisoned to improve sea views.
A resident of Arkles Bay who has lived near the trees for many years but did not wish to be named says that 18 pōhutukawa were planted on the foreshore many years ago, along with big rocks to stop erosion.
As well as providing shade for beachgoers, the trees’ roots protect the road, waterfront reserve and houses.
“The main concern is if the trees die some of the erosion protection will be lost, which includes the waterfront houses,” the resident says.
The trees are protected by rules in the Auckland Council Unitary Plan, which make poisoning them an offence under the Resource Management Act.
The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding $300,000 for an individual, or up to $600,000 fine for a company.
If it is not possible to save the trees, Council will replant new ones in the same location.
If anyone has any information that could assist Council, phone 09 301 0101.