Chain­saw van­dal at­tack

An­gry North Shore neigh­bours sus­pect trees dam­aged to get bet­ter view

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - Tom Dil­lane

Achain­saw van­dal has left sea­side neigh­bours on Auck­land’s North Shore ner­vously sur­vey­ing their back­yards af­ter a tow­er­ing pine was ir­repara­bly dam­aged and sev­eral oth­ers ring-barked.

Cas­tor Bay res­i­dent Tina Mor­gan sus­pects some­one snuck into her back­yard while she was in Italy three months ago and tried to kill the tree for a sea view.

Mor­gan was left $9000 out of pocket af­ter the 20m pine had to be felled be­cause ar­borists deemed it un­safe.

A deep in­ci­sion around its base was dis­cov­ered by gar­den­ers on Septem­ber 21.

An up­hill apart­ment block back­ing on to Mor­gan’s Heath­cote Rd prop­erty re­ported sim­i­lar at­tacks on trees.

“Over the road from that apart­ment block . . . there’s a sea view.

“So there’s a wedge of houses in that area that are prob­a­bly go­ing to ben­e­fit from both trees be­ing down. But I have no proof,” Mor­gan said.

“I de­cided to move on it quickly be­cause a cou­ple of weeks ago it was re­ally windy and all I did was worry about the tree.

“And sec­ondly, if some­one is that brazen they’re prob­a­bly go­ing to come back and have an­other go.”

Ar­borists said the tree was prob­a­bly cut three to six months ago, which is when Mor­gan was on hol­i­day and when her neigh­bours found cuts in their trees.

An apart­ment block fur­ther up the hill on Parr Ter­race has a large po­hutukawa and two other smaller trees with mys­tery saw marks round their trunks.

Ilan Wit­ten­berg, who lives in one apart­ment, blames foul play.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful po­hutukawa, it’s quite large and it’s old and some­one who was not happy with the shade it cre­ates, or maybe not happy with block­ing the view, I’m not sure, but they re­ally caused a lot of dam­age,” he said.

An­other res­i­dent at the Parr Ter­race apart­ment, Deb­bie Wast­ney, also be­lieved there was “def­i­nitely noth­ing un­in­ten­tional” about the cuts.

“Clearly it has been done by a chain­saw, it’s a com­plete clean look­ing two cuts, re­ally deep in,” she said. An ar­borist will as­sess if the po­hutukawa is sal­vage­able, but res­i­dents have been quoted up to $15,000 for re­moval.

“I was just hor­ri­fied at how much Tina had to pay to get it re­moved. I think it’s pretty rank of the in­sur­ance com­pany,” Wast­ney said. Up­hill of the Parr Ter­race apart­ments there are sev­eral homes with deck views that would be less im­peded by the trees’ re­moval.

“I don’t think it would be some­one who was on a drunken stu­por with a chain­saw,” Wast­ney said.

“It’s some­one who re­ally wants to ben­e­fit from get­ting rid of the trees. Every­one in our block is pretty up in arms about it.”

Mor­gan and Wit­ten­berg have sep­a­rately re­ported the at­tacks on their trees to po­lice, but were told there is lit­tle that can be done. Waitem­ata Po­lice told Mor­gan in an email: “Look­ing at all the avail­able ev­i­dence we have not been able to find out who is re­spon­si­ble. Un­less more in­for­ma­tion or ev­i­dence is found, we can’t pro­ceed any fur­ther with this case.”

Po­lice told the Her­ald on Sun­day if tree felling oc­curred on a prop­erty with­out per­mis­sion it could be con­sid­ered wil­ful dam­age, and re­sult in charges.

Mor­gan was ad­vised her pine should be taken down in the next six months.

“If the tree had fallen on some­one’s house, the in­sur­ance com­pany would cover the dam­age to the house, but they don’t pay for tree re­moval. So ei­ther I re­moved it or I let it fall on some­one which ob­vi­ously I wasn’t go­ing to do.

“Neigh­bours should look af­ter each other, not wil­fully dam­age each other’s prop­erty, and it made me un­com­fort­able that some­one had been on my prop­erty.

“It has made me more cau­tious about the neigh­bour­hood, and that’s a shame.”

Pho­tos / Doug Sher­ring (main), Ja­son Oxenham.

Tina Mor­gan lost her pine tree and $9000 af­ter the van­dal­ism.

The view cre­ated by the tree at­tack.

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