Trees take a beat­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

CEN­TURY-OLD po­hutukawa trees along Pt Che­va­lier beach have been left with branches ripped off dur­ing a project to re­sand the pop­u­lar sum­mer spot.

Res­i­dent Ian Ste­wart was walk­ing along the beach on Satur­day af­ter­noon when he no­ticed a num­ber of the branches on sev­eral trees were torn and bro­ken.

He says the dam­age ap­pears to have been caused by dig­gers push­ing new sand to the back of the beach.

Mr Ste­wart, a land­scape ar­chi­tect, says while some dam­age could be ex­pected dur­ing the work, the amount caused is un­ac­cept­able.

“You ex­pect a lit­tle bit of dam­age, but that’s just lazy,” he says.

“If we were to do any frac­tion of this dam­age we’d be in the courts.

“This is more than just one ‘oops’.”

Mr Ste­wart says the break­ages will make the trees more sus­cep­ti­ble to fur­ther dam­age and without treat­ment there is the po­ten­tial for die-back.

Like any jagged wound, he says, die back in­creases the chance of bac­te­ria and fungi get­ting in and af­fect­ing the branches.

Mr Ste­wart con­tacted the coun­cil about the dam­age and was as­sured it would be looked into.

Re­sand­ing site man­ager Colin Drinkrow says it ap­pears some­one driv­ing a dig­ger has “mis­judged” the sit­u­a­tion.

But he says some of the dam­age had been caused by chil­dren jump­ing and swing­ing on the branches that are now closer to the sand.

He says he con­tacted the coun­cil sev­eral times be­fore beginning the work to see if the trees could be pruned back to avoid un­nec­es­sary dam­age, but noth­ing was done.

He says the rest of the sand might now have to be shov­elled in be­hind the trees by hand.

West­ern Bays coun­cil­lor Greg Moyle hadn’t heard about the tree dam­age be­fore be­ing con­tacted by the Auck­land City Har­bour News but said he was “cer­tainly con­cerned”.

“It’s quite dis­ap­point­ing to hear that this has occurred con­sid­er­ing this is very much a feel good project that the com­mu­nity has looked for­ward to.”

The coun­cil’s arts, com­mu­nity and recre­ation pol­icy group man­ager Ruth Stokes says it was alerted to the dam­age last Fri­day.

She says the coun­cil was aware a fort­night ago of the po­ten­tial for dam­age to oc­cur.

But a com­mu­ni­ca­tion break­down saw an ar­borist sent to the wrong beach, where he saw no prob­lem with the trees.

A coun­cil ar­borist as­sessed the trees on Mon­day.

Ms Stokes says any chil­dren would have had to be “pretty big” to dam­age the branches, which are mostly high up.

“It seems there is a prob­lem with how the con­trac­tor has man­aged the site,” she says.

Ms Stokes says the coun­cil is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing peo­ple’s safety on the beaches and the health of the trees.

She says the trees will be trimmed back as soon as pos­si­ble.

Con­sent can be granted quickly be­cause it is emer­gency re­me­dial work.

“We’re work­ing through with the project man­ager and the site man­ager to make sure the is­sues don’t arise again.”

The re­sand­ing of Pt Che­va­lier is part of a $7.74 mil­lion isth­mus beach re­plen­ish­ment pro­gramme.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Col­lat­eral dam­age: Pt Che­va­lier res­i­dent Ian Ste­wart called coun­cil straight away when he saw the dam­age to the po­hutukawa.

Emer­gency treat­ment: Dig­gers work­ing on Pt Che­va­lier beach have dam­aged the na­tive po­hutukawa.

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