Trees take a beating
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.
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.