Couple cut up over tree chopping

Mick Saunders inspects one of the damaged pōhutukawa trees at Snells Beach.

A Snells Beach couple are dismayed by the apparent vandalism of at least two pōhutukawa trees at the northern end of Snells Beach.

Resident Mick Saunders was walking along the beach-side walkway on the morning of December 30 when he discovered two young trees had all of their branches removed.

Mick says the damage was too great to be a regular pruning exercise and the branches had been left lying over what remained.

“I walked the same path quite late the day before and the trees were fine, so someone has come in at night with secateurs to take them down,” he says.

While he wouldn’t like to speculate, the only logical reason he can think of for the offence is that someone doesn’t want their sea view obstructed.

Mick and his wife June also believe that two other young pōhutukawas in the vicinity have been poisoned, as they are dying.

“I just feel it’s really wrong. So many in the community got together to make that beautiful walkway and enhance it with plantings. For someone to put their selfish interests first is a bit mean.

“If we make a noise about it, they might be a bit more wary before they do it in the future.”

The couple did contact Auckland Council, which has since had its arboriculture contractor inspect the damage.

Auckland Council’s acting head of operational management and maintenance, Gwyn De-Arth, says it appears to be an intentional attack on the trees, although one that should not be life threatening.

“Pōhutukawa are an iconic New Zealand tree and we take instances of poisoning and intentional damage seriously,” Gwyn says.

Maximum penalty for this offence is two years imprisonment or up to a $600,000 fine.

Council will be doing remediation work on the trees. This is not an isolated case. Beach front pōhutukawas were poisoned in Arkles Bay in September last year.

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