Trees have a unique place in our environment. Without them, human life as we know it would not exist. Trees conserve water, make our air breathable, absorb air pollution, support our slopes and form the hub of enormous underground micro-environments that strengthen soil and foster insect life.

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Pohutukawa, Mairangi Bay

Pohutukawa, Mairangi Bay

In April, The Tree Council received a phonecall from a woman who was quite distraught about Council wanting to remove a tree on her property. It took several calls to get the full picture, as she became quite emotional each time the subject was raised with her. Eventually it all became clear and the question of protection for the tree became technically interesting.

The property is located on Montrose Terrace, Mairangi Bay, where North Shore Council had been purchasing houses for several years in order to expand the Beach Reserve. This house was the last, and had been forcibly acquired, with the owner given the right to occupy for a further 5 years. Technically the Council is now owner of the property and the resident’s rights are quite limited.

The tree is a large pohutukawa and had been planted by this woman’s grandfather in 1928. She had grown up with this tree and was understandably extremely upset when Council told her they had received a complaint from a neighbour who claimed the tree was blocking light and sea views and wanted it removed! The neighbour lived in a recently built apartment block and had obviously purchased his flat with full knowledge of the tree in his view.

The woman’s son-in-law also took an interest in the tree and discussed the matter with Council officers. An agreement was reached that only deadwood would be removed from the tree and we were informed of the date and time the tree contractors would be working.

On the day The Tree Council and the son-in-law, together with the woman and another neighbour, were all waiting for the contractor. There was no sign of the complainant neighbour, nor any Council officer! In the event the contractor was very accommodating and spent about 3 hours in the tree removing deadwood only. The difference in the general aspect of the tree is negligible. A happy ending and gratitude expressed for the support of The Tree Council.

Policies from the legacy Council applying to road and reserve trees in this area are as follows:

2.8.9 Management of Trees on Parks and Reserves: (Parks Policy)

Trees will be maintained in as natural form as possible and the philosophies and techniques of Alex L Shigo regarding tree maintenance and tree surgery practices have been adopted by the Parks Department. Only qualified arborists that follow Shigo’s methods will be contracted for tree work. Topping is not considered to be an accepted arboricultural practice and trees will not be pruned solely to preserve views.

Management Policies

2.5    The Council will consider requests for pruning or thinning where a tree is seriously affecting access to direct sunlight to a building, but will not consider the pruning, thinning or removal of trees and shrubs on road reserves for the purpose of improving views from residential properties.

Supplementary to the above, the Property Act 1952 address legislates for issues relating to views in Part 9 Section 129C.

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